Chapter One: Demons & Doorsteps Edit
Ryoga woke with a start. He looked left and right, but suddenly calmed. His senses, honed by the practice of the martial arts, had detected something amiss, but he couldn't quite place it. He knew something was wrong. He looked to his left to discover that his wife had the same feeling.
"What was that?!"
Akane looked over at her husband and shivered, "I don't know. I just had this weird feeling."
"Me too. Should I check it out?"
Akane nodded her agreement, and relucantly got up from her bed, making sure that her son was fast asleep in the crib situated next to the bed. Together, the two of them searched the one bedroom apartment thouroughly, and even went so far as to check the outside hallway. Nothing was amiss. Nothing wrong.
Ryoga sighed and looked out the window. All seems to be okay out here as well. He turned his head to signal to Akane that nothing was wrong. She got the idea and returned to the bedroom. Ryoga followed.
"So what do you suppose it was?", Akane whispered.
"I don't know. Whatever it was, its gone now. It's late and I don't want to wake him up."
Akane nodded silently and began to lay back down in the bed. It was nearly two hours before either of them got to sleep again.
The figure jumped down to the grounds of the school, and situated himself near a tree on the edge of the soccer field. He knew this place. Yes indeed. Had he gone to school there? Did he teach there? He could not remember. All he knew was that the place was definately familiar.
The man silently looked himself over. Even though he could not remember, he knew something was different. The way he walked, the amount of weight he was pulling around with him. Chains were attached to his suit at several point, a large red cloak hung from his neck, and a mask covered the place where his face once was.
He sat uncomfortably at the base of the tree. He definately had sat at this place before. He could distinctly remember the outline of the homes and businesses over the wall of the school. He got up and continued to walk.
He soon reached the school's olympic sized swimming pool and gazed at his reflection. The image that reflected back was alien to him. He could not remember what he had used to look like, but above all, this was not it. He looked... Evil.
After tearing himself away from the pool he had felt a sudden calm come over him. He immediately paused, and then returned to the pool, this time not looking at his reflection. The tensed feeling had returned, and he did not know why.
He grunted in frustration. The swimming pool fascinated him, but he hesitated. It wasn't long before his curiousity took over. He reluctantly plunged his arm beneath the surface of the reflective water and waited... Nothing happened. It was if he had expected something, and he felt strangely empty as he retracted his arm from the cool waters.
It wasn't long after that before he decided it would be best to leave this place as soon as he could. He jumped effortlessly over the fence and ran into the streets beyond.
For a reason unknown to him, he had let his subconscious take over, and found himself darting down streets as quickly as his feet would take him, as if there were some destination he was headed for.
He stood outside of a piece of land surrounded by ten-foot stone walls. He knew what was over the wall, he could envision it in his mind. 'Home' he thought to himself, and then bounded over the wall.
He took a look at his surroundings, it was his home alright. He could even envision the inside. His room. He noticed a pond around the back of the house and felt his stomach clench at the thought of it. He began to walk towards the front foor when he felt a presence.
"I figured it wouldn't be long before you showed up here, Saotome", the presence said.
He turned towards the source of the sound. The source of the voice itself was a disgusting man. Dressed in a pair of pants with the fly undone, and the button as well, a white, stained shirt that hugged his skin easily, and a trenchcoat. He had makeup on his face, which made him look remarkably like a sadistic clown. It wasn't long before he realized, that was exactly what he was.
"Who are you?", he asked.
"Why, Saotome, I figured you'd be asking the opposite. Who _YOU_ are as a matter of fact.", the man replied.
"I don't have time for this", he replied, "I've got to go." He turned to tear away.
"Go where? Home?" The clown laughed. "Thats not your home anymore."
He stopped. "What do you mean?", he sneered at the man.
"It sure does look familiar, don't it Saotome?"
"Why do you keep calling me that?!"
The clown frowned. "Thats your name isn't it?", he smiled wickedly, "Ranma Saotome of the Anything-Goes School of Martial Arts?"
He froze. That name. That... Title. It meant something. He realized it. Ranma Saotome was his name.
"How... How do you know my name?"
The clown laughed, "Ahh, so you are starting to remember eh?"
"Just answer my question!"
"Now, now. Is that any way for the new hellspawn to treat his teacher?"
"Hellspawn? That's what that... thing called me...", Ranma looked closely at the man in front of him, "Who are you? Really."
"Really, Spawn?", he began. "Right now you can call me the Clown. But that may all change in the future."
"My name is Ranma!"
"_WAS_ Ranma. Past Tense. Now you're Spawn, servant of Malebolgia. You've been gone longer than you think, Saotome."
"What are you talking about?"
Clown laughed, "Boy wouldn't I love to tell you, Spawny... But no. You've got to find out for yourself. Go ahead. Open the door, be welcomed by your friends and family."
Ranma grimaced under his mask, but then decided to ignore the man and continue on. As he began to open the door, he heard a chuckle from the man's direction, but when he turned around, he was gone.
He pushed open the door.
- Bingo*, Soun thought as the door began to open. He could hear
talking outside only moments ago, but couldn't make out the conversation. *If someone wants to rob our Dojo*, he thought, *They'd better be well equiped to deal with me!*
He started by landing a snap kick directly into the figures chin, and continued by releasing punch after punch to the figures abdomen.
The figure grunted at first, obviously surprised by the sudden kick, but for some reason refused to fight back. All the better for Soun, if he could knock the figure into unconsciousness, then it would be free sailing to call the police. Since Genma and Nodoka had left, Soun was left to fend for himself, which he found quite entertaining.
Ranma was dazed. One part of him was telling him to fight back, and maybe even kill the man attacking him, while another part of him said not to. It wasn't long before the latter half took over.
"Wait!", he screamed, blocking the figures kicks and punches.
"Get out of my home!", he yelled back.
Ranma sighed. The only thing he could do was block and hope he gave up and would listen to him. But he wouldn't give up, and Ranma soon lost his patience, knocking him back into the floor.
"Who are you?", the figure got up and asked.
Soun was angry that this figure had managed to block every punch and kick, save for the first one, and even knock him back against the wall.
"I.. don't know..", the figure replied. Again his voice struck a familiar chord in Soun's subconscious, but he could still not remember the source.
"I.. know you.", Soun said, unsure of the source of his feeling.
"Yes," the figure replied. "I'm sure of it."
Soun shook his head. How could he know this.. thing? Chains shook around the figure, seeming almost ghostly, and his cloak fluttered in the wind. *What wind?*, Soun thought for a moment, and looked around for the source. No draft. Nothing.
"I need to know your name.", the figure asked.
"Yours first.", Soun replied, still suspicious.
The figure paused for a moment, and then answered. "I.. _THINK_ It's Ranma. Ranma Saotome."
Soun almost collapsed. "R..Ranma?", he was sent backwheeling. "You're alive?!"
The figure seemed so unsure of itself, but now that he thought of it, the voice did resemble Ranma's voice. Ranma's boy-half anyways. Yes. Thats where the familiarity came from. It _WAS_ Ranma!
"Oh Ranma!", the figure jumped towards him, "You _ARE_ alive! Akane will be so happy!"
The figure seemed to be no threat to him, however another part of him saw differently, and was using his chains and cloak to defend. The man was knocked off his feet, and he looked up in fear towards Ranma's eyes.
"Ranma!", the figure cried, "It's me! Soun! You're father-in- law!"
Ranma frowned, "I... Didn't do anything.".. Did he? He couldn't remember. Ranma scowled. He finally become frustrated and pulled his cowl off.
Images of the years past danced throughout Souns head. Of the wondrous day Ranma and Akane had married, thus fulfilling the duty that he and his dear friend Genma had agreed on. Then of the week they spent away from home, at a resort that Nabiki had unwillingly paid for. And then finally, and unfortunately, their return. Soun opened his eyes and stared into the darkness.
Soun sat up and scanned the room around him. He grimaced at the sight of the figure he had just fought, and had just realized was Ranma Saotome.
"Ranma", he began, "How long was I out?"
Ranma didn't reply. Instead he shivered in place, standing faceing out towards the Koi pond.
"What.. Am I?", he asked out loud.
- What is he talking--* Soun began to think, and then remembered.
The grotesque face that had stared abck at him was nothing like the face that he had seen on Ranma's body the last he had seen him. Nearly five years ago.
"Ranma", Soun began, approaching the cloaked figure, "What happened to you?"
Ranma turned around. He had put his cowl back on, much to Souns relief and looked furiously at Soun.
"If I could remember, do you think I'd be here?!", he said.
"Ranma, my boy. Do you remember anything at all since the last time I saw you?"
Ranma cast his view towards the floor. "I can barely even remember you."
Soun took a step back. How could this be? Ranma Saotome, the son of his dearest friend didn't remember him?
"Do you remember anything at all son?"
Ranma thought hard. "Only a few things. A person. A place. And a curse."
"Ahh, you're still affected by your Jusenkyo curse then."
Ranma looked straight into Souns eyes. "You know of Jusenkyo? What is it?"
Soun looked confusedly at Ranma, and then replied. "Of course. It's where you got your curse."
"I got this.. Curse at that place?"
"Yes, you fell into Nyannichuan."
"Nyannichuan?", Ranma asked.
"Spring of Drowned Girl. Thats why you turn into a girl everytime you are splashed with cold water."
Ranma took this new information in. It had a ring of familiarity to it, but no more than simple Deja-vu. But it did explain some things, such as the fact he had expected something to happen when he touched the cold water at the pool. But unfortunately, it wasn't the curse he was talking about. This curse had nothing to do with Ranma's current situation.
"I'm not talking about that curse.", Ranma said, looking away.
"You mean. Your... Body?", Soun asked.
Ranma simply shook his head.
"Ranma, theres something you're not telling me."
Ranma looked at Soun. Suddenly, something came back, as if flooding his memory like an open dam. He remembered Soun.
"Mr. Tendo.", Ranma said, clutching his head.
"Ranma? Whats wrong?", Soun said, coming to the aide of Ranma.
"I remember you now. Your Soun Tendo. You own this dojo with.. With...", Ranma stuttered, then screamed as more memories began to flood his mind. Memories of Kasumi, Nabiki and Akane soon flooded his mind. He could now place Akane's name and face to a personality.
"A..Akane", Ranma cried.
Soun felt a tear escape from his eye. It had been years since he had cried. Since the apparent death of Ranma, he had not cried a single teardrop.
"Ranma.", he began.
"I remember.", Ranma said. "I remember how I came to be here. I remember who lived here. I remember the Jusenkyo curse. But theres still a lot of other things I don't remember. Like how I ended up like this."
"Ranma", Soun continued, "I think you need some rest."
Ranma stood up defiantly. "I'm not tired, Mr. Tendo. Where is everyone?"
Soun shook his head slowly. "Ranma, its been so long. Kasumi has been with Dr. Tofu the past few years, Nabiki left right after you.. Disappeared, and Akane.." Soun looked at the floor.
"What about Akane?", Ranma asked.
"Enough of this.", Soun said. "Ranma, its late. I'll tell you all about it in the morning, but for now lets sleep."
Ranma began to protest, but according to his memory, it was futile, and he reluctantly agreed.
- Very good, Spawny.* Clown thought to himself. *You're starting
to piece it together!*
The figure that had previously stood in Clowns space, outside of the dojo walls suddenly changed shape. In a grotesque trade-off, what was once Clown now stood a creature of disgusting proportions. At least nine feet tall, with tusks growing out of its gums, and rows of jagged, sharp teeth.
- Very good indeed.*
"What?", the voice yelled on the other end of the phone. "It's 4 o'clock in the morning!"
Hiroshi sighed. He calmly tried to explain to his friend and partner exactly _WHY_ he was being dragged out of his comfortable bed.
"Daisuke", he began, "Theres been a murder".
"I don't care if there was a mur-- der?", The cellular phone fell silent for a few moments, then the voice returned. "I'll be there in ten minutes."
Hiroshi put the reciever down and walked back towards the crowd of policemen and various journalists. Even the odd passerby had been there. Hiroshi walked up to the security officer and instructed him to move the crowd back.
"So, what do we have exactly, Glen?", he asked the on-site coroner.
The american man looked up and shook his head. "Its nothing like I've seen back in the states.", he began. "Its definately an execution, possibly organized crime, but the weapon used is not of the norm."
"What kind of weapon?", Hiroshi asked, now curious.
Glen lifted the head of the dead man up off of the ground and exposed the stump of the neck directly to Hiroshi. Hiroshi swallowed for a second, trying to keep his guts where they belonged. Glen just non-chalantly pointed out several things.
"The head was sliced clean off. More likely with a katana, or even a scythe.", he pointed, the turned the head upwards to point at several points on the caved in skull, "But this part right here is the problem. That wasn't the only weapon used. The skull has definately been struck by a blunt object. From the looks of it, I'd say a mace."
"Mace?", Hiroshi asked, envisioning a spray can.
"Not mace", Glen continued. "_A_ mace. A weapon that probably hasn't been used in wide circulation for a few hundred years. At least."
"So, with multiple weapons, that means there was more than one person invloved."
"Not necessarily. There are weapons sold today that resemble a scythe tied to a mace. Mostly at antique shops. I remember seeing one a few weeks ago."
"So, its possible that the weapon was purchased at this store."
"Yes, but I'm not finished.", Glen placed the head down on the ground as neatly as he had picked it up. "The body didn't go without its share of injuries. Here.", he opened the man's shirt to reveal a bloody mess. "If this is what I think it is, then our man is indeed talented."
Hiroshi examined the chest for as long as he could stand it. Then looked away. "What do you think it is?"
"A bonbourri. Its a weapon usually used by--"
"I know what a bonbourri is.", Hiroshi interupted, recalling a certain purple-haired amazon from his friends past.
"Well, it looks like it struck him directly in the center of the ribcage, and literally crushed his heart."
"But that would--"
"Yes," Glen interupted, "The force involved in such a strike would be astronomical."
"Excuse me, sir?", a voice interupted from behind.
"Yes?", Hiroshi asked the policeman behind him.
"This woman claims to have witnessed it." he said, motioning towards a shaking woman near the police boundry.
Hiroshi jumped at the mention of it, then bounded off towards the woman.
"Excuse me Miss?"
"Kinshin.", the woman replied, and nodded her head.
"I'm Hiroshi, junior detective for the Nerima Police Department.", he began, "I understand that you witnessed this event."
"Yes.", she said, looking towards the floor.
"What can you tell me about it? How many men were there?"
"Just one.", she said, sullenly.
Hiroshi thought for a second. For a single man to carry all those weapons. Only one man in his memory could do such a thing, but there were two holes in his theory. 1. That man was dead and 2. That man would never do such a thing, unless out of revenge. And this was more than likely a Yakuza execution.
"Can you describe him?", Hiroshi asked.
"He was...", she began, looking around suspiciously, "He was dressed in black."
Okay, that got us nowhere. "Can you tell me anything else?"
"I think he was Chinese. he had an accent."
"He spoke to you?"
"Only briefly. He mentioned it was a nice night, then walked away calmly."
"He didn't threaten you in any way?"
"No. He was actually rather.. polite."
This man was a professional all right. To let a witness get away as easily as that, he had to be either very very smart, or very very stupid. Hiroshi hoped to god it was the latter.
"Hey, what happened?", the voice came from behind.
Hiroshi turned around and motioned Daisuke to come towards him.
"Miss, this is my partner, I'm going to have you tell him everything you saw while I go and check something out."
"Whats up?", Daisuke asked, walking within hearing distance of Hiroshi.
"I need you to get the information from this woman, I'm going over to check something.", he said, walking towards Glen.
Daisuke shrugged and pulled out his notepad.