It has begun.

I look upon the destruction and it amuses me. I see friends dead and dying, victims of an irresistible force that they could not run away from, nor halt by might or by reason. It amuses me, for it is a doom that I have wrought.

I was the fiancee of Ranma Saotome, by virtue of an arrangement made by our fathers. Other women wanted him for themselves; they stood in our way and ruined our chance to be together forever. For that unforgivable crime, I unleashed the darkness in my soul, a darkness born of years of anger and of pacts with the unspeakable.

The irony is delicious. The love Ranma holds for his dear fiancee prevents him from fighting back. Can you appreciate the irony, Ranma? Perhaps not.

I see a vision of the future. A barren and dead world, with only myself remaining, unable to die as the dark forces feed on my madness. Perhaps those who die now will be the lucky ones. I care not. I have come too far already.

I hear screams, screams of agony as more attempts to halt the devastation are met with failure. Delightful.


by Keener Barnes and Gary Kleppe

Characters created by Rumiko Takahashi; used without permission.

Kasumi's limp form crumpled raggedly as it made wet contact with the concrete wall. She had been one of the last of the survivors and had thought her voice could reach into that bottomless void which had been her sister. Casually, her mind drifted off as her lifeforce ebbed away. My, the house was so dirty, mustn't let the company see this, and she really should make something for when the fighting was over. They would be hungry after all that exercise.

Akane strode though what was left of her house and surveyed the devastation. All that was left was a half eaten shell of the old home, a fitting place for her last victim's final moments. A yellow bandanna was wrapped loosely about her head. Ryouga's last gift; he too had made the mistake of trying to reach out to her.

But her eyes bore the real testament. They swallowed the light and greedily begged for more. Not even the love of her own father had been enough to fill the emptiness. Only darkness dwelled in her heart now. But, she chided herself, that was why she must feed; now where had Ranma gotten off to, she wondered. Then, she felt his presence; a lifeforce like no other. Her new masters would be pleased.

Ranma simply let the wind scour him clean. His clothes in tatters, he stared out towards where the koi pond once was. Where a tree had stood and he had trained, fought and lived. Now there was nothing, his friends were long gone and he hadn't the strength to save even one of them. No, no use trying to fool himself now, even if he had access to the strength needed he wouldn't have been able to use it.

Made impotent by love, he had stood by as the dark force had consumed her soul. Had watched passively as friends were killed. Ukyo's screams for help still reverberated throughout his soul. He fell to his knees screaming as loud as his lungs would allow. Hoping to burst them, or at least drown out their screams for help.

"How much do you love me?" asked a voice, gentle as a cherry blossom. Akane smiled at Ranma's back. Whatever his answer, it wouldn't be enough. Ranma shivered and slowly turned to meet his destiny.

"Enough to save you my child, even if he doesn't know it yet." Nodoka walked carefully out of the shadows, her blades held limp at her sides. "Enough to give you the redemption you seek."

Akane smirked at the warrior woman. Once Ranma's mother had been a source of awe for her. A mother and wife without giving up any strength in the bargain, everything that she had ever wanted to be. But that was then, now the woman was below contempt. The woman's strong words were filled with sound and fury, but after Akane has torn the life from her body, they would signify nothing. With a feral growl, she leaped at Nodoka, her eyes blanketing her face in shadow.

Nodoka moved swiftly and slashed hard at the young girl, her blades working hard and close but never seeming to break through Akane's defenses. Arms draped in a deep shadow blocked the swords, and she could gain no ground. When the girl struck back at the swordswoman, she found herself forced to her knees. The martial artist broke from the fight and stood up to her full height.

A smile that radiated beyond the shadows dared Nodoka to take advantage. The older women got to her feet and raised her swords to the heavens. Then she struck, as Ranma screamed!

Mocking laughter told him that he shouldn't have wasted his breath. Akane walked up the length of the blades, having already exposed a great deal of length from her back and she placed her hands on either side of Nodoka's face. Mist began to pour from of the woman's eyes and mouth, as the shadow girl seemed to drink in her very essence.

"This ends now." Ranma whispered. Akane turned an amused glance toward her new challenger and was surprised at his lack of aura. No blue or red flames sheathed his body. No irrepressible light shone off him like a beacon, and his body wasn't quivering with rage. In fact, his shoulders took on a resigned look and the only stress visible on his face was a single tear.

Confused, yet confident, Akane sneered at the little man. "Of course it ends, you are the last. If only you had been stronger... pity."

"Akane, I love you. I always will. I once asked my mother why she had let dad take me away, I asked her how she could leave me alone, do you know what she said?"

"What?" Akane sneered.

"No matter where you went, I was always with you. When you climbed the mountains, I followed. When you swam the great oceans, I was there. I will follow you to hell, because love connects us soul to soul. No matter what happens to you, I shall always accompany you. I never thought I'd meet someone I'd want to tie my soul to. Someone I'd follow in life and in death." Ranma said as he reached out to Akane with his palm outstretched to her.

"Until you met me? My how touching." Akane laughed.

"Akane? This truly is a dark and lonely place, let's find a new place." Ranma's palm began to fill with a radiant azure light. "A place where we can be happy... forever."

"What?" Akane's eyes went wide as she registered the incredibly powerful sphere that was forming in Ranma's outstretched hand.

"Jisatsu Bakuha..."

< BOOM! >


It's finished.

The darkness that is my soul emerges from its hiding place. No need for concealment now. My spirit expands, looking over what it has wrought. It is good.

Police officers are surveying the devastated dojo. Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo are pronounced dead. Two young lovers, perished in a double suicide. How romantic.

Tough luck, Akane. No doubt wherever you are now, you've learned your lesson. Dark power isn't easy to control. It's not for amateurs to play around with. It takes a lifetime to learn. A lifetime of broken promises, of abandonment and betrayal, of having the light within you run away leaving you behind. You need to have nothing left to lose. So sorry you found that out too late.

Had I the capacity for it left in me, I would be feeling a touch of guilt over the way things turned out. After all, I was the one who called the forces of darkness to Akane. Her anger was the hole in her defenses. Anger easily turns to hatred, and hatred to black. I know that all too well.

What a fool you were, Ranma Saotome. All my life I only wanted one thing, and that was you. It was being denied you that made me this way. When I found you again, I would have given it all up for you. Well, maybe not given it all up -- but at least you would have been spared. In the end you wouldn't have wanted any more than that anyway. But you had to stand by Akane. It was she whom you truly loved. Bah! What is love? Where did it get you in the end?

My soul flows back to my lifeless body. Tapping into its dark power, I quickly undo the deterioration that my shell has undergone since my leaving it. The heart begins to pump, and blood circulates. I emit a low moan.

I take a look at the stage where so many of my plays took place. Unbidden, my mind begins thinking back. As I expect, I find times of sorrow and pain, but am mystified to find something strange intermingled with it all. Why does my heart seem to beat again whenever I remember? The stinging in my eyes are a minor nuisance and I brush them away with slight exasperation at my apparent lack of control.

One of the police officers on the scene notices me. "Holy -- Get a medic over here quick! I think we've got a survivor!" He turns to me. "Take it easy, lady, it's gonna be all right."

I move over to my dear departed fiance, and crocodile tears begin to flow. "Ranchan!?! He's -- He can't be -- No!!!!" I grab his body in a final embrace, as I gloat inwardly.

The acting comes easy to me; but then, I've had a lot of practice. For years, I played the perfect fiance: cute, understanding, always sweet and kind. Ranchan, I would say, I'll always be there for you as your friend. I only want what's best for you. If you really love Akane, if being with her instead of me is what will make you happy, then I'll support your decision. But think it over carefully. You might be making a mistake.

Told you so.