Disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi is the greatest, but then again so is <whoever did SM>. All Ranma ½ 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: This was starting to get long, so I think I’ll just say ‘Read the previous chapters’ from this point on. Sorry. 8)

 

 

Chapter 9

“Demonic Encounters”

 

 

Hikawa Shrine

 

            The Sailor Senshi were gathered at the shrine for a meeting. Though it had become normal recently, the fact that all but Pluto were present still seemed unusual. Mercury was finishing up her calculations while the others tried to get Moon and Mars to quit arguing.

 

            Coughing to get their attention, Mercury began. “First, let’s go over the bladewalker. Since this is the second time we’ve encountered one, I’ve got more information to work with.” She tapped a few keys and two holograms of the bladewalkers appeared above her computer. “The first and second ones were nearly identical, except for the feet, the mask, and this strange growth on the back.” The mentioned parts became highlighted. “The first one’s feet appeared to be made of a single blade. The second one simply had blade-like toes. The mask of both creatures was mostly the same, except for the design. The first one had these odd markings, while the second had what appeared to be teardrops. I don’t know yet if these two changes are significant or not. We’ll have to wait until a third one appears. Now for the third feature: this strange growth. It would appear to be the most significant difference between the creatures, as well as its weak point. The first bladewalker we faced did not appear to have this same growth, though there is an odd bulge beneath its armor, so it may have just been better protected. When this organ was struck on the second bladewalker, it was rendered momentarily helpless. Judging from some of the other readings, I may have an explanation. The first one appeared to have been much older than the second one.”

 

            “How much older?” Moon piped up.

 

            “Well, it’s hard to be exact, but… at least ten thousand years.” Everyone stared in shock at Mercury.

 

            “Ten… th-thousand?” Saturn stuttered.

 

            “Yes, at least. Which would indicate that the first bladewalker predated the Silver Millennium. I also picked up some residual energy from the creature that would indicate that it had been caught in some kind of temporal anomaly.” When she saw the blank stares most of the Senshi gave her, Mercury explained. “It looks as if the creature had been put through some kind of time portal.”

 

            “Oh!” Moon commented eloquently. “Speaking of time, where’s Pluto?”

 

            Uranus and Neptune shook their heads. “We haven’t seen her since the new trouble began.”

 

            Mars pointed something out. “You said the first one appeared to have traveled through time. Do you mean the second didn’t?”

 

            Mercury nodded her head. “Not as far as I could tell. I think that it takes times for the bladewalkers to mature. Basically, the one we fought today was a newborn. I think that, given time, its armor would have grown to cover the growth completely. We were fortunate that the civilian who assisted us today managed to strike its one weak point.”

 

            “Her name is Ukyo,” Tuxedo Kamen threw in.

 

            Moon remembered something. “Oh, guys, there’s something else. The lady who helped us out, she knows that pigtailed guy, Ranma. She asked us to not hurt him, so if we can, we have to try and avoid hitting him.”

 

            “Hey, I don’t have anything against the guy, even if he did kick me that one time, but if I ever get my hands on that little…” Uranus launched into a rather graphic description of just what exactly she would do. Neptune covered Saturn’s ears until she was done.

 

            “Well, she’s still fair game, but we need to find some way of breaking her control over the others. Any ideas, Mercury?”

 

            The blue-haired Senshi shook her head. “I couldn’t identify the controlling energy during our brief encounters. There are several strange readings that I am getting from both the girl and the boy. I haven’t been able to make any sense of them. The only thing I can say is that their readings and those of the bladewalkers are completely different.”

 

            “I don’t know whether to be relieved or worried,” Jupiter commented.

 

            “One more thing, I have been able to confirm that the bug-like creatures are definitely not youma or anything else like what we have fought before. They appear to be some kind of alchemical combination of creatures from Earth.”

 

            “That’s horrible!” Moon blurted out. The rest of the Senshi agreed.

 

            “Luna, do you or Artemis have any idea about these creatures?” Mercury asked.

 

            The intelligent cat shook her head. “I can’t remember anything about them. The closest thing I can think of is a vague legend about an enemy from the days leading up to the Silver Millennium, but I can’t remember details.”

 

            Tuxedo Kamen stood thoughtfully in a corner of the room. He was very worried about Ranma and Akane, and the incident with Ukyo bothered him as well. He continued his contemplations until the Senshi, with little more to discuss, headed for home. Tuxedo Kamen transformed back into Mamoru and escorted Usagi to his car. The drive to her home was interrupted when someone stepped out in front of the car when they came to an intersection. Mamoru slammed on the brakes and stared. The man was dressed in an old styled samurai outfit with black plants and a blue top. He raised his right hand, and at first Mamoru thought he was holding a strange looking sword. It took a moment for him to realize that the sword actually seemed to be organic and growing out of the man’s hand. Mamoru and Usagi stared in shock and surprise as the man began to speak.

 

            “Truly fortunate you are, to be the first sacrifices to my most holy cause. Fear not, for your death shall not be in vain! Your noble offerings will speed my way to fulfilling my pigtailed goddess’ wish! For truly as the curtain falls on the play of your life, so shall it rise on my reign of this world with the pigtailed goddess by my side. Oh, tis a truly wondrous thing that she has finally granted the noble Tatewaki Kuno the honor of dating her, at the mere cost of the death of a few dozen peasants. As in days of old, the sacrifice of the working class shall grant power to the noble samurai who alone can rule this miserable world! And now, I accept the offering of your lives!” With that, the man opened his eyes, which glowed an unholy red.

 

            As his sword descended, Mamoru slammed his car into reverse and did everything in his power to put the gas pedal through the floor. He managed to get far enough that the sword only struck the hood of the car, instead of cleaving through both him and Usagi, but the engine block was cut in half. Mamoru grabbed Usagi and pulled her out of the car with him as he tried to get away from the possessed madman. Usagi was crying and screaming Mamoru’s name.

 

            Ukyo had been patrolling for only a little while when she heard a voice that sent chills through her spine. “Oh, no, not Kuno… why did he have to show up now of all times?” She asked out loud. She headed to where she heard the voice coming from, just as the insane swordsman finished his speech. Ukyo was in shock. She had known Kuno was a delusional megalomaniac, but she had never seen him actually trying to kill people in cold blood before, not even Ranma. From her vantage point on a nearby rooftop, she saw the sword he was carrying. The streetlight didn’t allow her to make out the details, but she could see that it was no normal weapon. Add to that the fact that his eyes were glowing, and she knew something was terribly wrong. She unhooked her battle spatula and hopped down into the street.

 

            “Hey, jackass! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” She yelled at him.

 

            “Ah, the fair Ukyo Kuonji offers herself as a sacrifice to my noble cause. Fear not, fair maiden, for I, Tatewaki Kuno, shall accept your offering as soon as I have received the lives of these two peasants.” He charged towards Mamoru.

 

            Ukyo cursed and threw one of her smaller spatulas at the swordsman’s feet, making him halt his attack on the couple. “I think you and I will talk now, you jackass.”

 

            “Oh, it is such a wonderful thing that you are so eager to offer yourself up to my noble ascension. Very well, I shall accept immediately! Strike!” Kuno’s sword became a blur as it came at Ukyo again and again in a flurry of blows. She managed to barely parry the attacks, but her spatula was quickly being reduced to shreds. As a break came in his movements, Ukyo reached into her outfit and brought out a flour bomb. The ensuing smokescreen gave her enough time to pull back and see that the couple Kuno had been attacking had vanished. She breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived as the cloud dissipated and Kuno came at her again. She managed to parry a few more of his attacks, but one particularly savage swipe cleaved the handle of her battered spatula in two. The return stroke buried the tip of his sword into her side.

 

            Ukyo’s eyes flew wide as pain surged through her body. In her mind, she could suddenly feel thousands of claws scraping away at her soul and she screamed in agony as she fell to her knees. Kuno pulled the sword out and raised it over his head. “I, Tatewaki Kuno, accept your noble sacrifice now!” The demonic weapon descended towards her head.

 

            The clang of metal on metal rang out and the sword was suddenly embedded in the pavement less than a centimeter from Ukyo’s body. A shuriken lay on the ground beside it. Kuno looked up and his eyes narrowed as he took in Konatsu’s form appearing from the shadows. “Truly you are a pathetic, cowardly dog, as all ninja are, to strike a noble samurai from the shadows.”

 

            “You touch her again, Kuno, and you die,” Konatsu said, his teeth clenched in rage.

 

            “Do you honestly think that I, the noble Tatewaki Kuno, could possibly be afraid of a miserable cur like you? Ha!” Kuno swiped his sword in Konatsu’s direction, sending a lethal blade of air in the ninja’s direction. Konatsu hopped up onto a signpost, and then dove for Kuno, katana first. The samurai smirked as he brought his sword up and cleaved the young ninja in half. The smirk disappeared as two halves of a wooden log fell to the ground in front of him. Whirling around, he saw Konatsu retreating to a rooftop, Ukyo’s shivering body in his arms.

 

            “Come back here and fight, coward!” The enraged samurai ranted.

 

            Konatsu carefully set down Ukyo’s body out of sight before turning back to the deranged swordsman. He hopped down to the street and drew a wazikashi. He held the katana and wazikashi up, and then rotated them until they were parallel to the ground. Kuno sensed something building up as the blades began to glow white. The kunoichi released the weapons, which continued to hover in the air as Konatsu made strange motions with his hands. “Kunoichi Killing Technique: Metal Storm!” The sword blades shattered and the pieces flew towards Kuno.

 

            The samurai smirked and, with incredible speed and dexterity, deflected every shard. “Is that the best you can do?” He taunted. Pain suddenly shot through his sword-arm and he grabbed it, his hand coming away bloody. Looking around, he saw that the shards he had deflected were coming back at him. He parried them all again, but this time they did not return.

 

            “And now that you are unarmed, fool, how would you care to die? Slowly and painfully or quickly and painfully?”

 

            Konatsu kept his distance. He had not expected the Metal Storm to fail. Whatever unholy power had been granted to Kuno, it had increased his skill drastically as well. He was running out of ideas to use when a break came his way.

 

            “Cars are for driving, not cutting in half! In the name of the Moon, I, the pretty soldier Sailor Moon, shall punish you!”

 

            Konatsu groaned internally at the silly speech, but was grateful for the distraction it provided. Flicking his wrist, he sent a small sphere hurtling towards Kuno. The swordsman caught it with his sword tip and it exploded in a smoke cloud. Konatsu used the opportunity to retreat to a safe distance and check on Ukyo. The okonomiyaki chef was still shivering and moaning in pain as the ninja tried to treat the wound.

 

            “Such beauty before me,” Kuno said as he saw Moon and Tuxedo Kamen step out into the street, “Truly, the gods have blessed my quest by presenting such Venusian sacrifices for me!”

 

            “Did someone say my name?” Venus asked as she came up next to Moon and Tuxedo Kamen. Tuxedo Kamen would have groaned, but all of his attention was focused on the insane swordsman.

 

            “Stay out of his range,” he warned them. “That sword is radiating evil.”

 

            “Yes, the gods truly are blessing me with such a beautiful bounty this night.” Kuno began a fast charge towards the trio.

 

            “Space Sword Blaster!” Much to Uranus’ surprise, Kuno caught the energy beam on the blade of his sword and deflected it into Mamoru’s car, destroying what was left of it. Several more Senshi arrived to join in the fight.

 

            “Can I be more blessed? Another symbol of beauty offers herself to me!”

 

            “SHUT UP!” Moon yelled, having had enough. “Moon Princess Halation!” The energy beam flew straight towards Tatewaki, but as with Uranus’ attack, it was deflected by the demonic sword. “Yeeeeeeee!” Moon cried out as the madman charged at her.

 

            Tuxedo Kamen intercepted the demented swordsman with his staff. Thanking Ranma repeatedly for their sparring sessions, Tuxedo Kamen was actually able to deflect the samurai’s attacks.

 

            “It is good to finally meet someone of skill in the noble Art of the Sword,” Tatewaki praised his opponent, “But you should know that no one is superior to Tatewaki Kuno when it comes to the Art!” He pressed his attack harder.

 

            Tuxedo Kamen finally remembered where he had heard the name before and realized just whom he was fighting. Using a move Ranma had taught him, he feinted and slipped a single hit through Kuno’s defense, slamming the end of his cane into the swordsman’s chest. Kuno grunted and fell back a bit, surprised. Then the glow in his eyes brightened and he came back faster and stronger.

 

            The Senshi watched helplessly, unable to attack the demented warrior while he was in such close quarters with their leader’s boyfriend. Mercury finally showed up and started taking readings. “Sailor Moon! He’s possessed by that sword!”

 

            Moon nodded and started up her special attack. “Moon Healing Escalation!” Kuno tried to parry this beam as well, but the energy washed over him and the sword. He paused for a moment as the weapon’s grip on his mind weakened. Unfortunately, his insanity was too deeply rooted, and the delusion that his pigtailed goddess had actually agreed to marry him should he kill a few dozen people allowed the sword to regain its control. The delay was enough, however, for Tuxedo to get in another solid hit and send Kuno onto his back.

 

            Kuno’s eyes glowed even more red as anger filled him. “You would keep me from my pigtailed goddess?” The samurai glanced around and noticed that a police car had pulled up a short distance away. “You will not succeed!” He cried out. Regaining his feet, Kuno ran for the car and, before the two cops inside could react, swept the sword at them. The top of the car was ripped away, as were the heads of the two police officers. The Senshi stared in horror as all of the blood from the bodies flowed into a stream that merged with the sword. Kuno laughed in a demonic voice as the bodies dissolved into nothing and the stream of blood finished flowing into the sword. Suddenly three shuriken appeared in his chest and he hissed in pain. Turning towards the source, he suddenly found two knives buried in his arm as Konatsu again struck from the shadows.

 

            Uranus used the opportunity to send a World Shaking at the demonic warrior. Still recovering from the surprise attack, Kuno was only able to partially deflect the energy ball that struck him. He was blasted through a metal fence and halfway through the stone wall of a nearby house. Prying himself from the rubble, he managed to parry a Deep Submerge, but not the rose that buried itself into the side of his neck. Dropping to his knees, Kuno hissed loudly. “You have the field this day, but know that your transgressions against my noble person will not go unpunished.” With that, Kuno’s form was sucked into a black hole that appeared to the side, and then disappeared.

 

            The Senshi stared at the battlefield in shock. Moon suddenly felt a presence next to her and she jumped to the side. Looking down, she saw what appeared to be a woman wearing a ninja costume kneeling submissively before her. “Whaa!!!!!!!! Who are you?”

 

            “I am Konatsu, a kunoichi in the service of Ukyo Kuonji. My mistress has been injured, struck by the demonic sword of Tatewaki Kuno. I fear for her life and even her soul. Is there anything you can do to help her with your magical powers?”

 

            Saturn stepped up from where she had been watching the others. “I might be able to help. Where is she?” Konatsu seemed to vanish, reappearing moments later carrying the badly shaking form of the okonomiyaki chef.

 

            Saturn started to place her hands over Ukyo’s wound, and then pulled back in fear. A nasty black fluid was bubbling from the cut in her side. Screwing up her courage, Saturn placed her hands over the wound and concentrated. A soft glow formed around them and slowly, very slowly, the wound closed and the viscous substance disappeared. Saturn collapsed backwards, shaking horribly at the creeping sensation flowing through her. “That was horrible,” she whispered.

 

            Konatsu checked the wound and bowed respectfully to the Senshi. “I thank you for your help in saving my mistress’ life. I am in your debt.” Before the Senshi could say anything, the ninja lifted Ukyo carefully and disappeared into the night.

 

            The Senshi stared where the ninja had been standing. “What the heck is a kunoichi?” Moon asked.

 

            “A member of a clan of female ninjas,” Tuxedo Kamen answered. “She works at Ukyo’s restaurant.”

 

            “Was that the Ukyo you met at college?” Moon asked him.

 

            Tuxedo Kamen nodded. “She’s a good friend of mine. She’s an incredible cook and a good fighter. I’m worried about the fact that she was out here tonight. I think she might have been looking for Ranma.”

            “Maybe she was just on her way home,” Moon offered.

 

            “No, her apartment isn’t in this part of town, and neither is her restaurant.”

            Moon got an odd look in her eyes. “And how would you know where her apartment is?”

 

            Tuxedo Kamen’s male danger-sense kicked in to overdrive. “I was just helping her out with her cooking projects.”

 

            Moon’s eyes suddenly filled with tears. “You mean, she’s been cooking for you when you’ve been visiting her?” Much to everyone’s dismay, their beloved leader, Sailor Moon, began bawling her eyes out in the middle of the street.

 

            Tuxedo Kamen waved his hands and tried to comfort his beloved. He finally calmed her down with a few choice romantic words, and then the Senshi broke up for the second time that night.

 

 

Kiematsu Rei, Negaverse

 

            Kaji glowered at the view screen. He had watched Kuno’s minor accomplishments and he was less than impressed. “Brother, why are we directly attacking only Tokyo?”

 

            Inago had managed to regenerate the hand that Ryoko had blown off, but he was unable to heal the arm that was severed by Tenchi’s sword. “Because, my dear brother, I have spent more time researching this world than you have. There are demon hunters and spiritual warriors all over this planet. Tokyo has one of the weakest barriers between Earth and the Negaverse. If we started to attack other cities, we would have to spend more energy than we could afford, and the local warriors would soon put up as much resistance as these ‘Sailor Senshi’. And, as I can see you are thinking, if we were to try for hit and run operations all over the world, soon the whole planet would unite against us and again WE DON’T HAVE THE POWER!” Inago hissed as his arm throbbed in pain.

 

            Kaji nodded, understanding. “I will have to send my servant to Tokyo a few more times before he can become a proper avatar. On one of those trips, I will try to locate a suitable avatar for you. You should stay here until then. If you are killed, we may not be able to revive our lord Fusei.”

 

            Inago nodded and retired to his laboratory. Kaji turned to the alcove where Kuno’s body materialized. The organic-looking sword had grown, the pulsing material covered Kuno’s arm to just below the elbow. “Soon,” the priest whispered.

 

            Suddenly, Inago’s laboratory door flew open and the priest stormed into Kaji’s workshop. “I have to go. NOW. Do you still have power over Gaiyou Yasha?”

 

            Kaji nodded. “She will still serve me, if she lives.”

 

            “Call her now, or our enemies may become more powerful.”

 

 

Ryo-Ohki, over the Sea of Japan

 

            Ryo-Ohki hovered over the Sea of Japan. Ranma, having managed to return to his male form, gritted his teeth as the ship meowed questioningly.

 

            “Well, we’re here, femboy,” Ryoko smirked.

 

            “Can Ryo-Ohki take us underwater?”

 

            Ryoko nodded and the spaceship plunged into the sea. A blinking light appeared on one of the crystals, indicating that the ship’s sensors had detected something unusual. “Yo, Ranma, Tenchi, do you guys have any underwater habitats on this mud ball?”

 

            Ranma shrugged while Tenchi shook his head. “Not that I’m aware of. Why?”

 

            “’Cuz we’re heading straight for one. Looks old and,” Ryoko checked the sensors again, “uninhabited.” On the view screen appeared a battered, dome-like structure. The dome appeared to be made out of some kind of metal that was crisscrossed with strange stonework. Ryo-Ohki cruised around the structure until it noticed what appeared to be a docking port. The ship carefully slid against it and checked the atmosphere inside. Finding it breathable, Ryo-Ohki transported everyone inside.

 

            The first impression that Ranma got was that something very bad had happened to this place a long time ago. Rubble was strewn everywhere, and the air was musty and stale. Skeletons that bore only a minor resemblance to human littered the ground. Everyone looked around nervously; not liking the feeling the place gave. Jiejie, currently in control of her body, got a vague feeling that it was a good thing the residents were dead. As the group began to move through the ruined city, Jiejie found a strange, black pylon in the middle of an open area. Odd designs were carved into it and gave Jiejie a sense of dread. One design, she noticed, looked like a giant monster with an octopus for a head and bat-like wings on its back.

 

            ‘Akane?’

 

            *Yes?* The possessed girl responded.

 

            ‘I want you to take over.’

 

            *Sure.* As Akane felt Jiejie’s presence recede in her mind, she heard ‘Hate water’ repeated over and over again.

 

            The party froze as the echoing sound of rubble moving. Suddenly, a pile of rocks broke apart and a small pig wearing a yellow bandana emerged. “Bwee bwe bwee bwe bwee bweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

 

            “P-Chan!” Akane called out happily and grabbed the little pig and held him tightly to her chest.

 

            Ranma got a disgusted look on his face, watching Ryoga (aka P-Chan) use his cursed form to get all snuggly with Akane. ‘How does he do it?’ Ranma wondered.

 

            Akane explained how the pig was her pet P-Chan to Tenchi and the others. Ayeka raised a very valid point. “How did your pet get here?”

 

            Akane shrugged and didn’t care. “He has a way of getting lost,” Ranma said.

 

            “It’s a good thing the rest of you don’t,” a voice echoed around them, “Otherwise I wouldn’t have anyone to play with. And it’s been so long since I could play with someone.”

 

            Ranma looked all around, but couldn’t see anybody. He did, however, sense a battle aura forming off to one side. Catching a hint of movement, Ranma barely had time to throw Tenchi out of the way before a stream of high-pressure water cut through the air where his head had been. A female figure slowly shimmered into existence a distance away. Her skin was covered in scales like a shark and her eyes were solid black. She was also completely naked.

 

            “That wasn’t very nice, young man,” the shark-lady commented. “After all, he was the only one my old friend directly ordered me to kill. Of course, he recommended I take care of all of you, but he left that up to me.” She moved towards the party with a rather seductive walk. “If you don’t interfere again, I might just keep you around for a while. Let me introduce myself, I am Gaiyou Yasha. Call me Yasha.”

 

            Ryoko stepped in front of Tenchi as Ayeka helped him up. “You wanna get to Tenchi, you go through me.”

 

            Yasha smiled, revealing a mouthful of sharp teeth. “If you wish. My offer was open to everyone.” Yasha’s walk changed to a run and she suddenly hurled herself at the space pirate. Ryoko threw an energy blast, but it passed straight through Yasha’s form, as her body seemed to become water. Yasha slammed into Ryoko hard, throwing the cyan-haired woman through a few ruined walls as the shark-lady’s body reformed where Ryoko had been standing.

 

            Ayeka formed a force field around herself and Tenchi as Azaka and Kamidake fired beams at the demoness. Yasha yawned as the energy blasts bounced off of her skin and impacted the surrounding rubble. “Oh please, that didn’t work on me ten thousand years ago. It won’t work on me now.” Her body seemed to pop as it became fluid again and surrounded Ayeka’s force field. The Jurain Princess strained to maintain the field as the demoness pushed harder and harder against it.

 

            Ranma and Akane were both trying to figure out what they could do, but neither one was coming up with an idea. Ranma tried using a Moko Takabisha aimed just over Ayeka and Tenchi’s heads, but the demoness merely flowed away from that section of the shield as the ki ball dissipated against the barrier. Yasha’s face formed out of one section of the water, looking right at the pigtailed martial artist. “Now now, you’ll get your turn.” The face melted back into the sphere around Ayeka and Tenchi.

 

            Azaka and Kamidake suddenly moved to either side of the demoness and erected another force field around her. “Now, Princess!” Ayeka shoved with everything she had and Yasha suddenly found herself being compressed between the two fields. Cursing heavily, she concentrated her power and blew a hole through one section of the outer barrier, blasting Kamidake back. The demoness flowed away from Ayeka and reformed herself.

 

            “Two of you… my friend only mentioned that one of you was from Jurai, not two. I guess I’ll just have to kill you both. DEMON STORM!”

 

            Akane felt a large buildup of magical energy, but could not see any effects. The snide look on the demoness’ face indicated that something was happening, but Akane couldn’t figure out what.

 

            “Wait’ll I get my hands on you, you little bitch!” Ryoko threw a flying punch that knocked Yasha throw a wall. Yasha picked herself up and glared as a dozen small balls of water blinked into existence around her. The balls began swirling around her as she stood up.

 

            “Crystal Rain!” Yasha hissed. The balls formed themselves into icy daggers that hurtled towards the angry pirate. Ryoko threw up her arms to cover her torso and face as the shards ripped into her skin. Tenchi cried out her name and threw himself at the demoness, sword-first. Yasha stepped to the side and chopped down cruelly at Tenchi’s back, knocking the breath out of him as he fell to the ground. Yasha raised her foot to deliver a killing strike to Tenchi’s neck just as Ranma came in with an incredible flying kick. The snapping noise echoed through the area as Yasha’s neck suddenly hung itself at an odd angle.

 

            A cry of rage from the demoness was Ranma’s only warning that she was still alive as she brought both of her hands together, pointing towards him. He just managed to dodge a wave of lethal water that erupted from her palms. Akane searched through her mind for one of the spells that Jiejie had taught her, but nothing useful came up. Most of Jiejie’s magic abilities, she had learned, came from either control of pre-existing elements, or from pure demonic power. Akane disliked the idea of using something powered by evil energies, and the only elements available right now where air, which was not in great abundance, and water, which she felt the demoness had a far greater control over.

 

            Yasha’s body flowed for a moment and her neck moved back to its normal position. “That hurt! Forget it! no more play time! You all die!” Again, Akane felt the strange buildup but could witness no effects.

 

            “She’s destroying the dome!” Ryoko yelled out as she got a worried thought-transmission from Ryo-Ohki, who was still outside. “She’s created some kind of monster storm in the sea over us!”

 

            Akane finally remembered Jiejie’s words about contradicting elements. According to her, the enemy of water is earth. Looking down, all she could see was a strange form of concrete. Hoping she wasn’t making a mistake, she focused her will and brought her foot down hard on the ground. The material shattered and she could make out solid earth beneath. Focusing her will again, she brought down her foot on the soil and whisper-shouted, “Earth Wall!” A barrier of solid earth sprang up from the hole and blocked Akane’s view of the battle. Using her newly trained senses, she felt out where Yasha was standing and struck the wall, whispering, “Earth Hammer.” The wall collapsed into itself, taking on a hammer-like form as it flew towards Yasha. The hammer slammed into the demoness’ gut and blew straight through her. Ranma half expected to see Yasha reform as she had before, but instead she collapsed, her legs dissolving into a puddle on the ground.

 

            “How <cough> could you?” Strange, blue fluid poured out of the demoness’ wound and mouth. As if for the first time, Yasha took a careful look at Akane. “Gui Huo? <cough> No, you are not her. But you have her <cough> power… how?” Yasha smiled fiercely. “When this dome collapses, you’ll all be killed and I will be revived. You can not win.”

 

            “Maybe if we kill you, the storm will stop and the dome won’t crack.” Ranma cracked his knuckles. Knowing that she couldn’t dodge this time, he powered up a Moko Takabisha. The look of fear in Yasha’s face confirmed his hypothesis, but it also made him sick to his stomach. Even though she was a demon, he hated the though of killing her. Horrible grinding noises echoed throughout the dome as the structure weakened. Small cracks began to develop and streams of water poured into the dome. Naturally, one of the streams impacted directly on Ranma. To Akane’s amazement, as Ranma’s body shifted to its girl form, the water began to swirl around the redhead. As the Moko Takabisha became stronger, the water began to defy gravity and rise up around her. Yasha screamed out in fear as Ranma released his ki and sent the ball straight into her.

 

            The dome, however, was already well past it’s safety threshold and the structure was beginning to collapse. Ryoko and Ayeka helped Tenchi to his feet as the group began to head back for Ryo-Ohki. Ranma suddenly stopped and turned around, seeing Yasha’s charred body still lying where it had been. The martial artist had expected her to turn to water, like her legs had. “The gem!” She suddenly called out. Akane turned around as Ranma began running back to Yasha’s body. “She might have the gem on her! We have to find it!”

 

            Fear gripped Akane as she realized what was about to happen. This was precisely what Jiejie had warned her about. “RANMA! No!” She tried to scream, but her damaged vocal cords couldn’t give enough force to the sound to overcome the horrible noises the dome was making in its death throes. Ranma bent down next to Yasha and saw that the demoness’ eyes were still open. He realized she was still alive as a small smile crept to her face. “I… told… you… you can’t… win,” she whispered as she grabbed Ranma’s arm. Ranma reached up to pry the demon’s hand off when an incredible flash blinded her. Akane was also temporarily blinded. By the time she could recover, she saw Ranma’s body lying on the ground next to Yasha’s. Akane ran to her side.

 

            Inside of Ryo-Ohki, Tenchi and the others could only watch as the structural integrity of the dome failed. As if in slow motion, the metal and stonework collapsed in on itself as water roared into the dome. An enormous air bubble erupted upwards as Ayeka covered her mouth in horror. Tenchi closed his eyes and clenched his fist, miserable that he had been unable to help the two martial artists. Even Ryoko was angry. Azaka and Kamidake stood silently behind Ayeka, doing their best impersonation of the logs they resembled. Suddenly the alarms blared in the cabin. “Intruder,” was repeated over and over again. Ryoko phased through the floor to a lower section of the ship. She saw a huddled mass on the floor and prepared to dispatch it when she noticed twin flashes of red hair.

 

            “Ranma? Akane? Is that you?” Ryoko moved cautiously to the pair of girls and checked them out. They were both unconscious, as was P-Chan, who was still clutched in Akane’s arms. Akane looked as she always did, except for the fact that her skin was paler than usual and her hair was red. Ranma, however, looked quite different. As Ryoko examined her, she realized that the girl’s hair was becoming a strange shade of purple, almost a blue towards the ends. Her fingernails had become sharper as well, and there was an odd, barely noticeable azure tint to her skin.

 

            Breathing a sigh of relief that she would never admit to, she picked them up and phased back to the main control room. Tenchi and Ayeka let out surprised sounds as they saw Ryoko’s passengers. Ryoko placed them on the ground and hovered over next to Tenchi. “So, what shall we do with our stowaways, captain? Should we sell them for slave labor or just keel-haul the lot of them?” Ryoko asked with a fake pirate’s drawl. Tenchi looked at her funny before checking the two girls’ conditions. Both he and Ayeka were surprised by Ranma’s new appearance. The two exchanged worried glances as Ryoko guided Ryo-Ohki back to the Masaki shrine.

 

 

Kiematsu Rei, Negaverse

 

            Kaji paced impatiently around the room. He had sensed something happen to Gaiyou Yasha, but he also could tell that his brother still lived. Finally he sensed his brother’s approach. The enormous smile on Inago’s gaunt face reassured Kaji. “I take it you were successful?”

 

            “Indeed, brother. What do you think of this?” Inago flicked something across the room to his brother. Kaji caught it easily in his zombified hand and looked at it. It was a small, red gem. At first he was unimpressed, but he tried to channel a little of his energy through it and found that the output was amplified. “Interesting…”

 

            “And what’s more, brother… while I held it, I finally managed to get a good reading on Sansai. We will be united again very soon.”