Disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi is the greatest, but then again so is <whoever did SM>. All Ranma ˝ and Sailor Moon characters… and the occasional Devil Hunter, as well as any other character that belongs to someone else belong to someone else, not me. I ain’t that good. Jiejie and Tian Huan are my own creations, as are Inago, Kaji, Sansai, and Fusei.

C&C: C&C is both welcome and desired greatly at dancingimp@yahoo.com. This is my first fanfiction work to make it past Chapter Half. Also, though I have certain things set in mind, I am willing to modify the story as it continues if it becomes necessary. If this story is located elsewhere, the original can be found at http://www.geocities.com/dancingimp. Thankies!

Big Thanks: To my prereaders/editors/mallet-wielders, James Thomas <who has written one of the best Dragonball Z/Ranma Half crossovers, http://www.provalue.net/users/heed452/fanfic>, and Greg Beauchamp. Thanks for the mallets to the head and red ink to the paper.

What Went Before: Ranma, Akane, and Ukyo were at college in Juuban. Happosai found a scroll which he used to try summoning a demon. The sacrifice for the ritual was supposed to be Ranma, but Akane interfered and vanished. Now the ‘demon’ appears to be a fifteen hundred year old Amazon with a mild attitude problem.  With Cologne’s help, Ranma is trying to find some way of getting back Akane. They ran afoul of a wizard or demon, who sent his minions to attack them, and now the Sailor Senshi appear to be rather miffed, believing Jiejie to be a demon and Ranma and company her servants. Jiejie has also managed to upset Ryoko, who is still sealed in the cave. The group has been informed about magical gems that may have the power to solve their problem. However, the first gem is in Egypt. Thank heaven for Kuno…

Chapter 4

"Sand Walls Do A Prison Make"

 

Cairo, Egypt, four days since The Summoning.

 

            Four Chinese Amazons and three black-haired Japanese youths stepped off the Lear jet and looked around. This was the first time any of the Nerimites had been to Egypt, except maybe Ryoga, and the view was breathtaking. Jiejie had been here once before, with Tian Huan, but that was hundreds of years ago. The debate as to whether to bring Kuno ended with him coming along since they might need to rent vehicles or equipment. After enduring the first of many rambling speeches, it was decided that whenever he opened his mouth, the nearest female would knock him unconscious.

            They purchased a few packs and some food, but, as it turned out, they were unable to rent any equipment or vehicles once the owners were informed of their destination. No one would say why they refused, except with mutterings of curses and wrath of the deities. When his usefulness came to an end, Kuno was knocked unconscious and taken back to his family jet, where the crew agreed to take care of him. In the end, they were able to ride a tour bus as far as the Valley of Pharoahs, but for the remaining trip they were on their own. They waited till nightfall to head out, reasoning that it was too dangerous to try crossing the desert terrain during the day.

            That night, Jiejie offered to do the cooking. She wasn’t sure exactly why she did it, but in the end she explained it away as making sure she wouldn’t be poisoned by the others. Ranma seemed nervous about letting the diminutive Amazon cook, but he relented when he remembered that, though she had taken Akane’s place, she was not Akane. His rationalization crumbled with the first few mouthfulls as everyone but Jiejie, who had yet to begin eating, developed extremely upset stomachs. Horrible cramps raced through their guts, and they began groaning in agony. Jiejie stared in shock. "Cooking no too bad?!" She checked over the ingredients and stared in fascinated horror. Instead of seasonings and herbs, she had somehow managed to add various chemicals for cleaning weapons and curing leather to the mix. ‘How is this possible? I’ve never mistaken ingredients before,’ she wondered to herself.

            Her musings were cut short as clumping noises reached her ears. Looking over, she saw a half-dozen monsters tramping their way through the sand towards the agonized group. They looked like they had once been camels, but the huge scorpion claws that emerged from their sides and the segmented, needle-tipped tail drove home the fact that they were abominations. Seeing that her companions would be unable to defend themselves, Jiejie’s mind started working on a plan. When she saw the camel-scorpions were licking their lips in hungry anticipation, she came up with one. Grabbing the kettle, she hurled it towards the monstrosities. It clattered to the desert sand and rolled, spilling it’s contents in the creatures’ paths.

 

            The monsters stopped and sniffed the food, then with odd noises began to hungrily devour the appetizer. In no time, the desert sand was cleansed of foreign material and the creatures were again advancing on the party. Moments before they reached the helpless travellers, the camel-scorpions suddenly convulsed and collapsed, horrible sounds erupting from their throats as their bodies writhed in agony. Slowly, they fell motionless. Jiejie checked the nearest one, but found no signs of life. Suddenly, she felt rage flare inside of her. "Cooking no too bad!" she seethed as she kicked the creature repeatedly. She stopped when the five bodies began to slowly dissolve, just as the creatures Ranma and the others had fought in the park a few days ago. Jiejie looked around carefully, but could sense no other presences in the area.

 

            The party ended up spending the whole night and the next day in camp, recovering from the horrible concoction. The following night, they broke camp and headed for their destination. They finally reached the location on the map where the tomb containing the gem they sought was supposedly located. Looking around, no one could see anything at first, but when they opened up their senses, they realized two things: There wasn’t a single living creature in a mile radius, and there was an almost tangible darkness below them.

            Cologne motioned to Ryoga and Jiejie while everyone stood back. With a cry of "Bakusai Tenketsu!" from the lost boy, the ground exploded upwards as Jiejie and Ryoga struck the ground. Sand and rock rained down around them as the two repeated the breaking point technique again and again. Soon they unearthed a huge, stone courtyard. Cologne hopped down and swept the sand off of some of the stones, noticing the picture-writing. She had no idea what they meant, but the Elder had a bad feeling about them. As they cleared the area around the stones, the discovered that what they had originally thought to be a courtyard was actually the top of an inverted pyramid of enormous size. They also discovered that only one rather large block of stone was devoid of heiroglyphs. Ranma guessed that this was the door.

Ryoga moved to use the breaking point on the door and was shocked when nothing happened. Looking closer, he realised that he actually couldn’t find the ‘weak point’ in the structure. Ryoga, Jiejie, and Cologne began examining the stones and all came to the same conlusion. There was no way to use the Bakusai Tenketsu to gain entry. Resorting to brute strength next, Ranma, Ryoga, and Jiejie pushed as hard as they could on the door, but to no avail. Ryoga tried just breaking his way through, with punches that could shatter concrete and break steel, but nothing happened.

            Cologne and the others began looking at the heiroglyphs again, trying to figure out how to open the door. A startled cry from Ranma brought everyone running. He pointed to one set of heiroglyphs just to the side of the door and everyone looked. Three figures were portrayed in detail. One was a man that had a red jackal’s head instead of a human one, another was a giant lionness, and the third was a woman with an odd crown. It was the lionness that had surprised Ranma, thanks to his Neko-Ken training. Jiejie felt a wave of anger roll through her as she looked at the picture, then she informed the others what it meant.

            "This place belong Egyptian god and two goddesses, Set, Sekhmet, and NebetHet. No know many words, but these three together very strange. This definitely Resting Forever Place of Horror, Destruction, Unclean, Terror, Nasty, Evil, Vile, Darkness." Jiejie ran her hands over the paintings, then noticed a smaller one nearby. It showed a group of warriors forcing a monstrous looking man to touch a particular brick. The symbols afterwards probably told more of the story, but she was unable to read most of them. It was enough to give her an idea, however.

            She went to the door and looked, finding the same stone block that was in the pictograph and touching it. Nothing happened. She had everyone try it, but all with no effect. Going back to the inscription, she tried reading it again. She slowly came to understand what they were doing wrong. Stepping back to the keystone, she placed her palm on it once again and then concentrated on the seed of dark anger that was a part of her soul.

Everyone stepped back as grinding noises occurred and the door slowly slid to one side, revealing a short series of steps leading down. After making sure nothing else was going to happen, the group slowly stepped in, Mousse producing torches from his sleeves and Cologne lighting them somehow. Cologne ordered Mousse and Shampoo to wait near the entrance in case it closed again. Shampoo grumbled about how she was forced to stay with ‘Stupid Duck Boy’, but agreed.

            As the others moved through the dark tunnel that sloped very gently downwards, Cologne warned them to be careful. Everyone agreed that something did not seem right in this place. Once they had gotten a short distance from the door, it slid closed before they could stop it. Muttered curses were uttered as the quartet headed further into the tomb.

            After walking for a while, they came across a left turn that was followed a bit by another. A short distance from the second turn was a door. Ryoga was able to push this one open, thanks to his brute strength. The group was not expecting the bright light that came pouring into the hallway from the room that was now open to them. Stepping in carefully, the found themselves in a rather large, rectangular room, with twin rows of columns on either side. Twelve torches burned on each column, four near the ground, four in the middle, and four towards the ceiling. Cologne and Jiejie were the only ones to notice the fact that the torches burned without being consumed. Along the walls were large, ornate doors with strange symbols that didn’t quite look like heiroglyphs covering them. The party could find no way to open the doors, and there was nothing else of interest in the room, so they continued on through the doorway at the other end of the room.

            Down another long hallway, they came across a much smaller, brightly lit room that held statues of the three deities of the pyramid. Jiejie stopped to examine the statues while the others walked to the doorway on the other side, only to find it blocked. Ryoga tried using his brute strength again, but the door wouldn’t budge. Finally, Jiejie approached and suddenly the door slid open. Everyone looked at the diminutive Amazon, who merely shrugged and stepped on through. They followed a long series of tunnels that seemed to go on forever until they finally reached a lit room who’s only exit was a set of steps leading down into darkness. The group descended in silence.

 

            They emerged from the stairwell between the legs of a giant statue of a lioness, which Jiejie identified as Sekhmet. Ranma felt extremely nervous standing under the glare of the feline monolith. This room was not lit well at all, with only a single torch, other than those carried by the party, providing light. Short doors lined the walls of this room as well. The group jumped at what sounded like a feline growl, but when the sound was not repeated, they dismissed it as a trick of the architecture and the wind.

 

            Ranma’s nerves became increasingly frazzled as they progressed further into the tomb. The heiroglyphs on the wall showing more and more felines, with a vast majority depicting the cats eating people. Bad memories flowed through the martial artist, and he gulped. More hallways lead to a large series of interconnected corridors that eventually flowed into a small room with another stairwell.

 

            "This ain’t like any tomb I ever heard about in school," Ranma commented.

 

            "Is no tomb, stupid." Jiejie’s words echoed softly through the room. "Is prison. This floor belong Sekhmet. Show her ferocity and anger at humanity when they stupid. She probably too too mad at you, stupid."

 

            Ranma bristled at the insults, but the presence of the painted cats was shaking him enough to make him drop it. He lead the group down the stairwell. At the bottom, as before, they emerged between the legs of a giant statue into a pitch-black room. Only their torches lit the way, and even their light seemed diminished. Looking up, Jiejie identified the statue as the god Set.

 

            "Ain’t he supposed to be like evil or something?" Ranma asked. Ryoga nodded as he seemed to remember it that way.

 

            "No, stupid. Set decaying god. Bring end to cycle. Many people no like end, so call Set evil, but he needed part of cycle."

 

            "Quit callin’ me stupid, you midget psycho!"

 

            "No call Jiejie that."

 

            Cologne put a stop to the impending fight and suggested they continue on. Most of the hallways in this floor were decorated with onyx and depicted various animals, primarily jackals and crocodiles. Some were killing people, while others were assisting them. One scene in particular caught Ranma’s eye. It was of a pack of jackals tearing an attacking army to shreds.

 

            One of the hallways opened into a room with a rather surprising feature. A river of sand was flowing like water through the chamber. The party was barely able to jump over the wide, flowing sand river and continue their journey. Further down, they came across what looked like an empty kennel, with a small sarcophagi in each chamber. Just beyond this room was another stairwell down.

 

            The statue they emerged from this time was a woman with a strange crown. NebetHet’s room was brightly lit and had an almost warm feel to it. The heiroglyphs on the wall showed various houses and palaces, protected and warded. A few showed evil creatures being repulsed from families sitting safe in their homes. The winding, serpentine hallways were nicely decorated as well, and the explorers almost felt as if they were walking through their own homes, rather than a prison for ancient evils. The only odd room they came across was a bowl-shaped chamber with strange holes in the walls. Jiejie was unusually jumpy as they passed through the room, but she calmed down once they were out. At the end of another hallway was yet another small room with a stairwell.

This time, there was no statue. Instead, they walked into a large room filled with bones and scattered weapons. As far as he could tell, Ranma could see that the bones were human. They stepped carefully through, wary that the skeletal remains might be hiding traps. At the other end of the chamber was a doorway leading to a  highly decorated room. The walls were covered in glyphs and pictures. A dozen statues stood beside half of the two dozen doors that lined the wall. Beside each statue was what appeared to be an altar. On each altar were various offerings, from jars and boxes to scepters and crowns. In the very center of the room was a pair of carved ankhs. Between the ankhs was a golden serpent, which coiled around a globe.

            The group walked around the room, examining everything. Jiejie read what appeared to be name plates that were on each statue, and her blood began to run cold. Most of the twelve names were unknown to her, but she recognized a few. The names were not known for their kindness nor their generosity. She developed a small shake as she realized that this room was the ‘cell block’ of the prison. She whispered this to the others and urged them to touch nothing..

            The two boys looked at Jiejie and then each other. They decided to stand still while Jiejie and Cologne explored the room. Translating some of the glyphs, Jiejie realized that all along the walls was a list of offenses that each of the twelve prisoners had committed. She examined the unadorned doors and found a few of them had nameplates as well, though most did not. One of the names was Imhotep. She didn’t know who he was or what he had done, but apparently he was supposed to be intombed here for committing atrocities against a pharoah and against Anubis and Isis. Glancing at the state of the door, she figured he had never arrived.

            After an hour of fruitless searching, Jiejie was becoming frustrated. It was then she realized something that was out of place. Moving back to the carving of the serpent encircling the globe, she realized it was actually a dragon. Checking her memory, she finally recognized it as Ouroborus, the Nordic creature often referred to as the Midgard Serpent. The dragon carving, however, was not quite right. Ouroborus was supposed to swallow its own tail, but the carving’s mouth was just short of it. Pushing against the head, she found it would move. When it covered the tail, there was a grinding noise and the stone under the carving moved away. Once again, steps led down, but only a short ways. The hall they led to was both narrow and small. Ranma and Ryoga were ordered to stay behind as Jiejie and Cologne were the only ones who could easily fit in the tunnel.

            The tunnel ended after a short spiral in a room that looked very similar to the one above, but on a much smaller scale. Reading the heiroglyphs, Jiejie came to understand that this was the room they were seeking. It was the repository of magical or spiritual items that were either evil in nature or were used by evil people. She also located what looked like a warning and a prophecy. She couldn’t read most of it, but did find that the writing warned that if any of the prisoners escaped and were not killed or recaptured within an indeterminate amount of time, Re would once again unleash Sekhmet into the world. She couldn’t tell if Sekhmet was supposed to kill the evil, or would be the evil. It did say something about only those under NebetHet’s or Set’s protection would be safe. Either way, it didn’t look good. She also found references to the Chosen of the three deities.

Jiejie examined the different miniature doorways in the room and found the goal of her travels. There was a warning about the item on the door, but Jiejie chose to ignore it. She poked the door with a finger and the stone exploded. ‘They must not have cared enough to ward these items as well as they did the prison itself,’ she thought to herself. Reaching inside, she grasped the softly glowing red orb. She saw that it was a little larger than a marble when pulled it out. She felt a rush of power pour threw her and a smile came to her lips.

Cologne watched the girl carefully, afraid that the gem might influence her somehow. She was releaved when Jiejie nodded towards her, then began backing out carefully. They returned to Ranma and Ryoga and Jiejie moved the dragon’s head away from its tail again. Just as the stone slid back into place, they heard noises echoing around them.

"A trap?! What did you do?!" Ranma yelled at Jiejie. She glared at him, just before the room shook. An explosive sound echoed through the air as everyone made a concerted break for the stairwell. They had gotten halfway through the bone-filled room when a familiar chilling laugh reached them. They failed to locate it at first, then realized it was coming from behind them. Turning back towards the cell room, they recognized the man from the park.

"So, I have you to thank for helping me find my brother," the man said enigmatically. "I, Inago Muragaru, Master of Alchemy of the T’kara Ri and Priest of the Cauldron, thank you." Another chilling laugh emerged from his throat.

"Whadda ya mean, ‘helped you’?" Ranma asked as everyone dropped into a combat stance.

"Why, you caught my interest back at that park and I’ve been following you ever since. And to think that my dear brother was imprisoned here, and you led me right to him. The irony is truly something mirthful." Once again, he laughed, then stepped to the side. His movements revealed what looked like a walking corpse. The figure’s skin hung off its body as did the blackened, shriveled muscles. Rotted armor draped precariously on its shoulders as it took a cluttering step forward.

"My friends will entertain you," Inago commented. "Oh, and that lovely little friend of yours, the one by the entrance, tell her that I found her very amusing. If she ever wakes up that is." With laughter echoing behind them, the two brothers seemed to disappear into thin air.

The group made a mad dash for the stairs. Just as they reached it, the doorway became blocked by a wall of bones. Looking around, they could see dozens of skeletons forming all around them from the bones that had been littering the ground."Aw, hell," Ranma muttered.

.           Cologne started to recommend that they form a circle, back to back, but Ranma, Ryoga, and Jiejie were martial artists, not soldiers. Small unit tactics were generally lost on them. Ranma wove in and out as swords, staffs, and other murderous implements came towards him skillfully. ‘Hey, ain’t they supposed to be slow and stupid? That’s the last time I believe the movies.’ The Amaguri Ken technique began to reduce his opponents to dust.

            The skeletons may have been skilled fighters, but Ranma and the others were unparalleled martial artists. Ryoga was using less grace and more skill than Ranma. Parrying weapons with his one-ton umbrella, the lost boy shattered bones with each punch. Jiejie was using a bit more precision, using fast strikes to knock the skulls off of her foes. Cologne sighed and joined in, her staff destroying the skeletons with precision. Within minutes, the skeletons were back to being bone piles again.

            Ranma was glancing around with pride when he noticed that the piles were moving, even the ones that were mostly just powder. Cologne pogoed over to the doorway and began smashing the bones covering it. Ryoga joined her as Ranma and Jiejie started working over the reforming skeletons. Together, the Elder and the lost boy managed to break through and the party dove out of the room, the bone wall reforming slowly behind them.

            “What the hell is goin’ on, here?” Ranma growled.

            “Is prison. They guard,” Jiejie responded sourly. “Be careful. Other guards wake.”

            The four martial artists ran up the stairs and along the hallway. When they came to the bowl shaped room, Ranma and Ryoga were treated to a whispered scream from Jiejie. Ranma glanced into the room and felt a shiver run through him. Snakes were pouring into the bowl-shaped chamber from the odd holes in the walls. That would have been bad enough, but the fact that the most of the snakes were skeletons while the others seemed more like zombies was a bit much. His eyes darted all around, trying to find some way past the little monsters when he was suddenly thrown face-first into the wall. Spinning around, he just barely managed to see Jiejie screaming at the top of her lungs, which came out as a very haunting moan, as she tore back down the hall and dove down the stairs.

            “What the hell are you doing?” Ranma screamed after her. He bolted after her and finally caught up to her just outside the bone chamber. The skeletons seemed unwilling to go beyond the door. Jiejie was huddled in a corner, trembling and staring at the wall.

            “What the hell is wrong with you, you midget psycho?”

            “S-s-s-s-snakes…” she whispered even more softly than normal. “S-s-s-snakes… hate s-s-snakes.” Ranma looked into her eyes and recognized what he saw there.

            “Don’t tell me… Snake fist?” He shook his head in disbelief.

            Jiejie nodded slowly. “When five year old, trained Snake-fist kung fu. Master very quickly. They decided Jiejie perfect learn Daija-Ken. Tie many rats to Jiejie, then throw Jiejie in pit of snakes. Repeat many times. That why Jiejie no can speak loud. Finally master Daija-Ken, but no can stand snakes.”

            Ranma nodded. He had been put through similar training by his father, though it was with cats and fish-cakes instead of snakes and rats. Idly, one part of his mind wondered how she felt about rodents, but he ignored that thought for now. He helped her to her feet and back up the stairs, though he could not get her to go down the hallway. He watched as Cologne and Ryoga came towards them.

            “What’s her problem?” Ryoga asked irritably. He had been almost thrown into the room when Jiejie had gone tearing past him.

            “Ryoga, you idiot. You know about my problem with cats? Well, she’s got a problem with snakes, okay?”

            Ranma suddenly bent over as a small fist slammed into his stomach. “No need tell whole world, stupid!” Jiejie hissed.

            Cologne was nodding as Ranma picked himself up. “Daija-Ken, am I right?” Jiejie nodded. “Then we are in trouble. There is no way back, and no other way forward.” Cologne considered their options. Using ki to wipe out the snakes would be very draining, and there were likely more guards along the way. They couldn’t just run through the room, thanks to Jiejie’s fear. They couldn’t leave her behind since she was the whole reason that they had come in the first place. They couldn’t wait out the problem, since Shampoo was in dire straits. She was snapped out of her thoughts when Ryoga suddenly growled.

            “This is all your fault, Ranma.” Ranma stared blankly at the lost boy as he stormed over to the doorway. Everyone watched as the lost boy began to glow a sickly green color. Ranma could just make out Ryoga’s mutters about Akane, Akari, Ranma, and dying in some stupid tomb. The depressed energy built up further around the lost boy as he suddenly yelled out, “Shishi Hoku Dan revised: Kuroana!” Instead of the typical green ball of energy which Ryoga was well known for, a black ball formed and flew into the center of the room. Instead of detonating, the ball hovered just over the floor as air began rushing into it. A minor windstorm built up as everything in the room began to be sucked into the sphere. As the writhing skeletons struck the ball, electricity ran through their bodies and they crumbled to dust. The others were further down the hall and only had to deal with some minor wind, but Ryoga had to grab the edge of the doorway to keep from being pulled in himself.

            Slowly, the ball dissipated and the powdered remains of all the snakes collapsed into the center of the chamber. Ranma wasted no time and grabbed Jiejie, carrying her through the chamber before the snakes could reform. Cologne followed closely behind them and Ryoga brought up the rear. Once they were safely down the hall, Ranma put Jiejie down and wheeled on Ryoga. “What the hell was that?!” he yelled, grabbing the lost boy by the collar. “Were you going to use that on me sometime?”

            Ryoga smiled at him, which stopped Ranma’s tyrade. Ryoga rarely smiled, and, when he did, it was usually malicious. This smile was genuine. “I had thought of it, but I don’t really want to. I actually kind of like you Ranma. You’re a good friend at times.”

Ranma’s hands dropped as his mouth fell open. “Ryoga?” He shook his head. “Why the hell did you come up with a technique like that?”

Ryoga smiled happily again and waved a finger at him. “Watch your language, Ranma. That’s not polite. And actually, it was Akari’s idea.”

Ranma was confused. Ryoga was always angry or sad, he was never happy. “Why would Akari come up with a deadly technique like that? And why are you acting so nice?”

Ryoga’s smile widened. “I’m not acting Ranma. It’s the technique. And Akari didn’t really think it would be an attack. She’d read this book about getting rid of your negative emotions by projecting them on something else. She tried to get me to do it. I tried and it worked! Unfortunately, I wiped out a small part of the forest the first time. You see, all my negative emotions are gone for a while. I couldn’t do a Shishi Hoku Dan to save my life now. Isn’t that great?”

Ranma shook his head. “No, that sucks. Let’s just hope we don’t need you to fight for a while.” Ryoga’s carefree shrug infuriated Ranma, and he stomped away down the hall. The others caught up to him when they reached the room with the large statue of NebetHet. They stepped carefully through the room, wary of any more guards appearing. None showed themselves and Ranma made it to the stairs.

On the next floor, their torches winked out, plunging the group into shadows. The only light came from the very occasional torch on the wall. No matter how much they tried, their torches would wink out shortly after being lit by the ones on the wall. Ranma had grabbed one of the hanging torches, only to have it wink out as well. They proceeded cautiously, everyone’s nerves on high alert. Off in the distance, they heard the grinding of stone on stone, followed by an odd laugh-like sound. Shortly after, the attack began.

Ryoga was the first one down. Something suddenly leapt out of the shadows at the lost boy’s back and slammed him into the ground. Before anyone could react, the creature was gone with an odd clicking noise. Ryoga started to pick himself up when something else slammed into his legs, knocking him back down. Ranma was just close enough to stop a third creature from latching onto Ryoga’s throat.

The creature Ranma had grabbed by the collar looked like a zombified jackal. Rotting skin clung to old bones and its muzzle seemed to be in a permenant grin. “Shit!” Ranma yelled and flung the creature at a wall, hearing it’s bones make a sickly snap. Suddenly, the entire party was under siege from a pack of the creatures. Ranma dodged a number of leaps, as did Jiejie and Cologne, but Ryoga wasn’t as fast. Old teeth and claws raked him, tearing his clothes and drawing blood. Ryoga’s smile never left his face as he grabbed one of the canines and slammed it against the ground, shattering the corpse.

Ranma snap-kicked one jackal that got too close to him and sent it flying into another. Neither creature moved afterwards. Jiejie had just ripped the head off of one, while Cologne had taken care of three others. Unfortunately, Ranma couldn’t tell how many more they had to go through. The clicking noises echoed through the shadows, where the creatures were staying until they had a chance to attack.

“What the hell are we going to do now?” Ranma griped.

“We will use their instincts against them, son-in-law,” Cologne responded. Holding one of the torches, she channelled a good portion of her ki into it. She could already feel the structure of the wooden stick fragmenting from the pressure. She waggled the stick up and down, making short whistling sounds, then suddenly hurled the stick down the hallway in the direction they had come from. The sound of skittering feet echoed through the hall. There was a snarl, followed by a yipe, as an explosion reverberated through the halls. Silence fell and the group waited, for a moment, but no more movement could be heard.

They continued down the halls and found the sand-river chamber again. Warily, they searched the room but could find nothing amiss. Ranma set up for a jump across the river, but just as his foot struck the edge of the riverbank, a giant form erupted from the sand. The enormous skeleton of a crocodile snapped at him, barely missing the young martial artist. Jiejie moved quickly, leaping at the creature’s head while it was trying to catch Ranma. She caught it’s mouth and wrapped her legs around it, trapping it shut. Ranma and Ryoga called out to her, but Cologne wasted no time and leapt to the other side of the river. “Hurry, children! She can’t hold it much longer!”

Ryoga went ahead and jumped across the river, but Ranma paused. The monster was trying to shake her free and failing. Suddenly, with unexpected agility, it brought it’s mouth around to its hind legs and enormous claws reached for the small Amazon. Ranma leapt with everything he had, catching Jiejie and tearing her free of the beast. He paid for it, though, as two of the claws caught his back and gouged it messily. Ranma hissed in pain, but managed to hit the other side of the river running and make it out the door. The moment they were beyond the chamber, the skeleton returned to the sand.

Ranma dropped Jiejie and hissed in pain. He watched as she got to her feet and examined his back. The look she gave him was filled with fury. As she opened her mouth, he held up his hand to silence her. “Don’t want to hear it, psycho.” Jiejie clamped her mouth shut and glared at him. She turned around and stalked down the hall. Cologne took some bandages she had hidden somewhere and silently wrapped up Ranma’s back. When she was done, she followed after the short warrior without a word. Ranma looked between the two and then at Ryoga. “What’s their problem?”

Ryoga just shrugged, the smile finally gone from his face. “Beats me. I don’t understand women either.” They got back to the statue of Set easily. Jiejie still refused to look at Ranma as she stormed up the stairwell. As they entered into the interconnected corridors, Ranma’s hair stood on end and he glanced around in a terrified manner. A rumbling feline growl echoed through the halls and was answered by another.

“C-c-c-c-cats!” Ranma cried out, terrified. Jiejie stared at him in fury until she realized the truth. Ranma had been through the Neko-Ken, just as she had been through the Daija-Ken. Cursing to herself, she grabbed him with surprising strength and boosted him over her shoulder. Ranma was to scared to move. “Close eyes!” she ordered. “You two, get on. Now!” She motioned to her free shoulder. Cologne hesitated for a moment and Ryoga just stared in disbelief at the rather short girl before him. “NOW!” Cologne climbed onto Jiejie’s back, but Ryoga continued to just stand there. Finally, as the growling came closer, echoing from all directions, Jiejie slammed a fist into Ryoga’s gut. Ryoga’s eyes widened as he actually felt the hit from such a tiny girl, and he bent over some. Jiejie grabbed his collar and forced him over her other shoulder. She staggered for a moment under the weight, then closed her eyes. Her hair began to glow red, and her skin became pale white. When she opened her eyes, they were as black as ebony. With a speed none of the martial artists could believe, she took off down a corridor.

At the third intersection, a black-boned lion skeleton pounced at them. Jiejie didn’t alter her course, but the glow around her increased. When the creature impacted against her, it shattered. Two lioness skeletons charged her, but they met the same fate. Ranma’s eyes were screwed shut and whimpering could be heard over the feline growls and shattering bones. Jiejie didn’t stop until they were past the giant statue of Sekhmet, up the stairs, and down part of the hall.

Finally, she did slow down and stop. Ryoga and Ranma were dumped to the ground and Cologne hopped off just as the glow about Jiejie disappeared with an odd sound. Her mostly-black hair returned and her eyes shifted back to their normal grey just as the girl collapsed to the ground in an undignified heap. Ranma checked her over quickly and became worried. Her breathing was shallow and her pulse was erratic. He looked worriedly at Cologne who shook her head in confusion. Ryoga huddled worriedly over the little warrior as well, concern written all over his face.

Slowly, Jiejie’s eyes opened again and she shook her head. “No safe do that. Bad danger.” She struggled to her feet, unconsiously resting one hand on Ranma’s shoulder. She staggered over to a wall and leaned heavily against it.

“What was that?” Ranma asked. ‘I’ve been saying that a lot lately,’ he thought irritably.

“You always ask that. Think sometime, stupid.” Jiejie growled. She finally got her breathing under control and began a tired walk Ranma started to storm after her but stopped. It would wait, he decided. First, they needed to get to Shampoo and find out what that bastard had done to her.

They finally reached the last chamber and stopped. Ranma screamed internally, the frustration starting to get to him. Ryoga groaned as well. Cologne and Jiejie just had annoyed looks on their face. In the chamber were six enormous humans in ancient armor that looked European. “Ogres,” Jiejie muttered, recognizing them.

“Since when have ogres been found in Egyptian tombs?” Ranma whispered harshly.

“No know. Ogres further north. Not know any here.”

“Well, how about we come up with a plan on this one? I don’t really feel like kicking the crap out of a bunch of ogres if I don’t have to.”

Cologne peered into the room carefully. “These creatures do not seem stupid. That one,” she said pointing at a particular ogre with an odd tiara, “I believe may be the leader. Perhaps we should negotiate.”

Before anyone could stop her, the Elder Amazon walked carefully into the room. The ogres all turned to look at her. They raised their weapons, an assortment of blades and clubs that were wreathed in a magical fire, but made no other hostile gestures. Cologne stopped in the middle of the room and bowed to the one she believed to be the leader. It said something to her in a gutteral language which she could not understand. It then seemed to switch languages, but again Cologne could not comprehend what it was saying.

Seeing the growing frustration on the ogre’s face, Cologne took the initiative. She pointed to herself, then to the door. The ogre shook his head and chopped his hand downward at an angle. Cologne realized he would not let her leave and there was no way to easily debate the issue. Sighing resolutely, she used her staff to begin drawing on the ground. She motioned the curious ogres over to watch her as she drew out a long, curving line in the sand. The ogres followed her movements curiously as she began to make a spiral with her staff in the ground. When she and the ogres reached the center of the spiral, Cologne suddenly shot her arm up in an uppercut motion. Ranma, Ryoga, and Jiejie had all dived for cover in the hallway, recognizing the move. A torrent of air was sucked into the room as the heat from the flaming weapons and the unnoticed chill of Cologne’s aura combined to create a miniature tornado inside the chamber. The ogres felt themselves lifted into the air, and then they were slammed hard against the roof of the chamber. With so little air to work with, the tornado cut off quickly and the ogres fell hard to the ground.

The four humans used the distraction to make a break for the exit. Ryoga and Cologne got to the door first and found it closed. Jiejie was right behind them, preparing to try brute force on the door when Ranma suddenly tackled her. She cursed and turned to berate him when she saw that a club had just flown over her head and slammed with incredible force against the door. Looking back, she saw the ogre chief had recovered his feet and followed them. The force of the impact had been enough to cause the door to open some. Ryoga was able to force it the rest of the way and run outside. Cologne was right behind, and Jiejie started to follow. It was then that she noticed the fact that Ranma hadn’t moved yet. Looking down at him, she saw blood trickling from his scalp.

Realization dawned on her as she grabbed his arm and pulled with all her strength to get him away from the swiftly approaching ogre. She got him outside the door just as the ogre made a grab for them. She could let go of Ranma and get away from the monster, but something wouldn’t let her do it. She gazed up in anticipation as she saw the chief’s flaming sword come straight towards her.

She closed her eyes and covered Ranma’s head with her body as she waited for the blow to fall. An odd crackling noise and a gurgle made her look up again. A large, scorched hole had appeared in the ogre’s stomach. It looked down in surprise, blood falling down its chin as it fell forward.

Jiejie watched in fascination as the body fell forward, revealing the tattered form of the thing that Inago had identified as his brother. It’s hand was raised and still smoking from the energy blast it had used to fell the ogre. “Thank… you…” the skeletal creature said. It laughed in a voice that sounded like two bones rubbing together.

Jiejie and the others stared as Inago appeared next to his brother. “Yes, thank you for helping us get past the guards. You did make it so much easier. For that, we shall let you live. For a while.” They vanished from view as their demonic laughter faded away.

Jiejie cursed herself for a fool, then looked down at Ranma. She checked his wounds worriedly, then let out a relieved sigh when she found that he was suffering from only a minor concussion. She laid him down gently, removing her robes and placing them under his head. Beneath the robes, she was wearing a black outfit that looked like it belonged to a ninja. She moved over to the ogre. Kneeling next to its head, she saw that it was still alive. It made motions that she could not quite understand. Finally, it pointed towards the tomb entrance, and then began trying to crawl that way. Finally understanding, Jiejie motioned to Ryoga to join her. Together, they helped get the giant back into the tomb.

Once inside, the ogre began to cough badly, blood pouring out of its mouth. Finally, he collapsed and the two martial artists knew he was dead. Before their eyes, the wound scarred over and the ogre stood back up. Bowing to them once, the creature walked to the door and made shooing motions. When Ryoga and Jiejie were outside, the ogre pulled the door shut behind them.

Cologne had found an unconscious and badly injured Mousse ontop of an equally unconscious Shampoo. She treated both their wounds, noting that they would indeed live, though Mousse would be very weak until his body could replace the blood he had lost. Shampoo was actually in fair shape, a few cuts and a bad bump on her head the only visible wounds. She moved Ranma to lie next to them and watched Jiejie and Ryoga emerge again from the tomb.

“Where is the ogre?” She asked.

Ryoga answered first, a confused look on his face. “He’s dead. I mean, he’s alive, but he’s dead. Or he’s dead, but he’s alive.”

Jiejie slapped the lost boy on the back of his head to shut him up. “Prison no let prisoners die. Dead guards useless, so guards no die either. As long as in prison, death no have power.”

“Ah, I see. That at least would explain all of the skeletons,” Cologne noted.

The three waited through the day that had dawned, but the three unconscious warriors never moved. It was nightfall when Ranma finally woke up. By then, Jiejie had time to fume over her unnatural need to care for him, and he was promptly greeted by a slap and a cold shoulder. Ryoga shrugged when Ranma threw him a questioning glance. Ranma sighed and lay back down. ‘Great. She’s as violent a tomboy as Akane was… IS! Akane is!’ He hit himself for the mental slip. ‘I will save you, Akane,’ he swore. A small distance away, Jiejie sneezed.

A little bit later, Shampoo woke up and got the brief run down on their adventure. She could not remember anything about her own fight, though. All she could remember was that the group had been gone for a long time, and then everything else was a blur. When she saw Mousse’s still unconscious body, she outwardly fumed, but something inside of her was touched. ‘If only he wasn’t such an overbearing fool, and a little bit better of a fighter, and not so blind, he be nice to be around,’ she thought to herself. And no one, not even a god, would ever get her to admit it.

Finally, the group decided to toss water onto Mousse and have Shampoo carry him back to town. She grumbled a bit at first, but didn’t seem to put up too much of a fight over it. As they headed off, everyone’s thoughts focussed on the bizarre twist that events had taken recently.

“At least we got the rock,” Ranma commented.

Jiejie looked down at her palm. No one else had noticed it yet, but during her run through the cat-filled halls, the gem had become imbedded into her hand. Her thoughts drifted to Inago and his brother. ‘Yes, we got the gem… but at what cost?’ she pondered. ‘It doesn’t matter. As long as I can get to Tian, nothing matters… except Ra-… NO, no exceptions. Nothing else matters.’

 

Ending Notes:

Bakusai Tenketsu – Breaking point technique – Strikes the ‘vulnerable’ point of rock and shatters it. Works on concrete, rock, earth, etc.

Shishi Hoku Dan – Lion’s Roar Bullet - A projectile attack that uses the warrior’s sadness to channel his/her ki into an energy blast. The more depressed, the stronger the blast.

Kuroana – Blackhole – A modified form of the Shishi Hoku Dan. All of the depression and anger is cast out of the warrior’s body as a sphere, which sucks in everything in the surrounding area.