The stars shone down upon the hole. It seemed like a rather simple hole, except for the fact that the distressed sounds of dozens of cats. A looming figure hurled a small child into the hole, as the darkness encroached upon him. The child pled for help but no reply was made, save the desperate cries of the multitude of cats. A glow began to illuminate the small pit, as the eyes of every feline within the pit began to shine.
The glow brightened as the yowls intensified, the screams became louder…
…A splash of water brought Ranma from sleep with a scream. “Ranma no baka! Stop waking us up!” Akane protested angrily as she held a glass over him. “You’ve been doing this for a week now!”
Ranma was not even able to reply, as the slight hint of a vaguely remembered dream nagged at the edge of her consciousness. “Akane, what the hell?” she yelled as she stood, glaring at Akane, before standing. “It’s bad enough the old ghoul put that damn ‘cat’s tongue’ crap on me, I don’t need this.” Akane backed off, swallowing hard in nervousness, though Ranma did not notice this as she staggered toward the furou.
The girl was stunned by the sudden, intense green glow of Ranma’s eyes for a brief moment. She shook a little as she leaned against a wall. I hope he finds a cure to this thing soon, Akane thought to herself. I’ll never get any sleep if he keeps screaming in the middle of the night. This, at least, was what was on the forefront of Akane’s mind. The back of it, however, pled that Ranma got through this, for everyone’s sake…
(The Dog Fiend and the Cat Spirit)
The majority of the characters in this series are the creation of Takahashi Rumiko. All others are my own creations. No profit is intended by this story.
Chapter 01 – The Spirit Awakens
Ranma spent the evening practicing the Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken, as her hands blurred, creating a buzzing sound as they struck the post. She knew the amazons would be at the beach the next morning, including that thrice-damned ghoul. Her hands stopped as one last blow snapped the top of the target completely off, as it crumbled beneath the onslaught. The martial artist took a few deep breaths, before standing straight.
The disturbing part, however, was not the ease of the assault, nor the torment the ghoul put her through, nor even being stuck as a girl. The thing that drove her to near distraction was the fact that every night since Kunou and that little weasel, Gosunkugi, put her through the hell of the cats, she had awoken, screaming, to the same damned dream. Even if she could not remember the details, she knew the cats were there. And she knew there was something else. However, she could not identify just what that something else was.
If she could only figure out just what was in the dream. She knew that very few, if any, ever survived the Neko-Ken. But the research she had done had told her that those who had survived were irredeemably insane. So what had she done differently? Why did she retain a tenuous hold upon sanity when others’ minds had been shattered? And at what cost?
It was the last that sent chills into her. What price did I pay to survive what no-one else has? And when will I have to pay that price? She did not have any of the answers. But she suspected that the last would be answered soon. If the dreams were any indication, it would be very soon, indeed.
With one last shudder, she turned back and continued to splinter the post with the newly learned technique. Tomorrow. Tomorrow would change everything, no matter what, she thought to herself.
The sun shown down upon the beachgoers, as Ranma stormed toward the Amazon contingent. “Alright, hag, I’ve come for the damn pill. And I’m going to get it, no matter what it takes!”
Cologne smirked at the arrogant young martial artist. “If you can, muko-dono. It would be so much simpler if you just did as you’re supposed to, and marry Shampoo.”
Ranma growled slightly, almost sounding a bit feral, if one let one’s imagination take hold. “Forget it, old ghoul.” Ranma slipped into a loose stance, moving toward the ancient Amazon. The two began a blurred dance, each lashing out but Ranma’s blows never found their mark as the woman continued to block. Each movement seemed beautifully and violently choreographed. But in the end, it became obvious that Ranma was on the losing end of the battle.
The ancient one sneered as she assessed her opponent. “You’re a hundred years too early to take me on, child.” Ranma found herself bashed toward the ocean with the staff, splashing the nearby beachgoers. One of them just happened to be Shampoo, who found herself buried in a pile of swimsuit. As Ranma staggered toward the shore, she promptly stumbled over a breaker and found herself face to face with Neko-Shampoo.
Nothing happened for a moment, except for the sudden paling of the Tendous’ faces. And then a terrified scream was heard as Ranma scrabbled backwards desperately, but was unable to gain any distance from that horrifying sight. Akane groaned a little as she heard the scream, but something still nagged at the back of her mind, and promptly went ignored. Nabiki shook her head, amused. Kasumi held her hand to her mouth, worried. Soun shook his head in disgust.
… the stars shone down upon the hole. It seemed like a rather simple hole, except for the fact that the distressed sounds of dozens of cats. A looming figure hurled a small child into the hole, as the darkness encroached upon him. The child pled for help but no reply was made, save the desperate cries of the multitude of cats. A glow began to illuminate the small pit, as the eyes of every feline within the pit began to shine.
The child pled, begged, and fought to escape, but in the end, he could only curl up and wait for the pain to end. Suddenly, it stopped, as the glow intensified. A voice spoke, “What do you wish for?”
The child looked up and whispered, “To be the best for Papa… to stop the pain…”
The voice spoke once more, “Your father is a sickening fool.” It paused and then said, “I can take away the pain, and I can make you the best… but not for that fool. If you must be the best, you must be the best for yourself and nothing else, unless you find a true path to follow.”
The child struggled to sit up. “You promise? I’ll be the best?”
The spirit agreed, “Yes… but not now. You cannot remember, lest you go mad. A part of you will sleep. And one day, you will remember.” One of the cats walked forward, carrying a mangled kitten in its jaws by the scruff of the neck, and placing it in the child’s lap. “This child died before it had a chance. The two of you will become bonded, so you may survive the awakening.”
The child did not understand, but held the battered body in his lap, as a glow suffused him unnoticeably. “Its spirit will ward you and keep you safe. You will be challenged, but you will survive and grow strong. Now sleep, child. Sleep…” As the child began to sag into slumber, the lid of the pit opened, as the man dragged him upward…
Then there was a
sound. Not the yowl of Ranma slipping into that feral state of the Neko-Ken,
but rather, a soft, bitter chuckle. Something dark. Sinister. Frightening. Even
An onyx and tan blur
whipped toward the aged figure, then back in the span of a breath. Then the
figure stopped, back to
…as the staff in
The figure turned toward the elder Amazon, eyes starting to blaze green from its shaded face. “What’s wrong, old one? Hands hurt?”
“I suggest,” the being
spoke, “that if you don’t want me to use you as a scratching post, you don’t
finish that word. My name is Ranma. If you’re going to call me by something,
that is the only name I want to hear out of your mouth.” Without waiting for a
reply, she said as she knelt, glaring right into
Now normally something like this would merely infuriate the ancient warrior. But staring into the very hells themselves, contained within Ranma’s eyes, and the utter calm within her voice concealing terrible malice, sent a shudder of fear through her. She could not help but feel like a mouse being stared at by a very hungry tiger. And for good reason. She, of course, had heard of that damned technique, the Neko-Ken. She even suspected that M… Ranma had been trained in it after his reactions to Shampoo’s accursed form. But none of the legends of that berserker technique had /ever/ described what happened to the being in front of her.
It is said age brings wisdom. For a brief moment, it definitely seemed true, as suddenly, in a blur, Cologne leapt back toward Shampoo-neko, grasped her and her clothing quickly, then blurred through the crowd as if the hounds of hell themselves were after her.
The normal (read: sane) beachgoers had already left by now, wanting no part in the outburst of violence. Thus the Tendous and Genma stood alone, staring at the figure before them as it turned to face the collected family. All of them stared in shock at the changes that had occurred.
The glow in Ranma’s eyes faded, now a soft green and cat slitted. The two odd shapes on her head seemed to be cat-like ears, while her hair had grown to waist length. But a dark smirk crossed her face that did not fit at all. Then that smirk parted as Ranma said…
“What? Is there something on my face?”
The Tendous and Genma suddenly found something quite interesting in the sand right before their faces.
The collective Tendou and Saotome families stared at the back of Ranma’s head as Ranma slipped through the dojo door. Her movements were smooth, graceful, and almost inhuman. The others could barely even keep up with the transformed martial artist, as Ranma went straight into the dojo, slamming the door hard. None of the others had the courage or lack of brains to try to bother him, thus they went into the house itself, sitting at the table to discuss just what had happened.
Ranma closed her eyes, meditating, reaching deep within herself to answer the question of just what the heck happened. She drove her consciousness deep within herself, searching for the answers, searching for a rea—
Flashes of light, yowls, screams, green light… and then a voice—
“So you finally found me, did you…?”
Ranma’s eyes snapped awake but she did not find herself in the dojo. For that matter, she was not even a she at the moment. He stood tall, in his male form, not even noticing the changes that had taken place yet. “I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to awaken.” A shadowy figure emerged from the darkness, but could barely be sensed. “It’s about time.”
The transformed warrior looked toward the voice. “What are you… and what… did I do?”
“You survived,” the figure replied. “You survived something no mortal has ever survived. I was impressed, and offered you a chance. You accepted. And now you’ve become something more. It’s a good thing you awoke, too.”
“And why is that?” Ranma asked. “What’s so damn important that I ‘awoke’?”
The figure sighed softly. “Because I’m losing myself… Fading away… akin to a human dying. I want to pass on a legacy. And you are that legacy. You’re a survivor, strong, adaptable. Even if I am just a low warrior spirit, it doesn’t mean I like the thought of nobody remembering me. I want someone to pass my skills, hell, my very being to. And you are the perfect one to do so.”
Ranma seemed skeptical, but nodded slowly. “I see… Well, then what do you want me to do about it?”
“Honestly? All I ask is that you accept my gift and my teachings. Learn from them. Don’t let them die.”
“That’s it. I honestly don’t have any other reason, than to make sure that there was some monument, some tribute to me. Your accepting these skills, using them as you choose, will be that tribute. That’s truly all I ask.”
Ranma shook his head. “It sounds too good to be true.”
“Fine. If you don’t believe me, you can give up the gift at any time. But I don’t have the power to grant it again. Even now, I’m just a shadow. Soon I won’t even be that.”
“Alright… What would I have to do?”
“Search. Look for those like you. There may only be one or two, but there are. Find a place and a time to learn who you really are. And finally, cut the panda loose. He’s only going to cause you grief. Make your own decisions.”
Ranma paused and nodded softly. “Alright. So what’ll happen to you?”
The spirit sighed. “I’m going to rest. And I finish giving you what I can. Use it well…” And with that, the shadowy figure flowed into Ranma, disappearing…
…as Ranma’s eyes opened. “Whoa,” she muttered, standing, almost staggering for a moment. It seemed like she was looking at a whole new world. Cat slitted eyes swept about the dojo, noticing details that she hadn’t noticed before. The peeling paint on the south wall, a slight crack in a support timber, dust being blown from a hole in the corner of the wall. It was then she staggered to the house, slipping into the dining room to see the family discussing Ranma’s situation.
“So what the hell just happened there?” Nabiki asked, frowning. “That sure as hell wasn’t the Neko-ken. What happened to Ranma?” Her expression was rather suspicious, but so were all the faces, save that of Genma’s. His expression was more nervous, like the face of one about to be lynched.
“I don’t know!” he said, wishing he could be anywhere but here. “He’s never done anything like this!”
“And why should we believe that?” Akane growled. “This isn’t the first time you’ve hidden something like this from us.”
Genma swallowed nervously. This was not looking good at all. In the almost 10 years since that training, Ranma had never been like this. With even Kasumi scowling at him, he knew that he was in trouble. He could not explain what had happened to his son, nor did he think his audience would care for such lack of knowledge. No, this did not look good at all.
“I don’t… know what happened to him. He’s never done this!” Genma protested.
Akane growled and stood, whipping her hammer out, ready to crush the panda into the ground. It was at this moment that Genma did something he promised he would never do. Yet he never let a promise get in the way of survival. With a quick stumble away, he performed a few quick ingei, or hand motions, and disappeared. However, as quickly as he disappeared, he reappeared, stumbling backwards with a harsh cough, clutching his voluminous gut, as a figure strode in. “Running away like usual, panda?” a sarcastic, biting voice called.
Everyone looked to the figure as she strode in, her long onyx hair flowing behind her, one ear twitching in amusement. “Oh, I’m sorry… it’s the Saotome Secret Technique,” Ranma said scornfully as she placed one foot on Genma’s stomach, while looking up. “So, what did I miss?” She asked, amused.