The Beast Within
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2, Darkstalkers and any other character mentioned in this story belong to their respective creators or are entirely fictitious.
< >: Thoughts
A Moonlit Encounter
From her backyard patio, Nodoka Saotome gazed out at the night sky. It had been a year, since her husband Genma had taken their only child on a training trip. It had been a long and lonely twelve months, with only the occasional letter to comfort her. She had missed her son terribly and recently, she had been wondering if she had been in her right state of mind to let her spouse take her only offspring away from her. The only thing she had to connect her to them, was a piece of paper with Genma's signature and Ranma's handprint. It was a contract that supposed to keep Genma on his best behavior while he raised Ranma, yet Nodoka couldn't help but worry that Genma would fall back to his less than stellar habits, regardless of the Seppuku Contract.
Early on in their marriage, Ranma's mother had found out that Genma wasn't exactly what one would call a good man. In fact, he barely qualified as a human being. He was greedy and tended to think with his stomach. On several occasions, Nodoka had caught her husband stealing from the family treasures, intending to sell them off for some fast cash. He was quite lazy and was content to leach off the family fortune, instead of going out to get a job. Nodoka had begun wondering why she had even married him.
With that thought, Nodoka then thought back to the real reason why she had consented to marry Genma. It was because of an encounter some five years ago, with a man named Jon Talbain. At the time, Nodoka had been a young and somewhat wild girl. When she had met the handsome foreigner at her father's dojo, it was love at first sight. He had come in from England to study her father's fighting style and the two had soon begun a romance. He was strong, a talented martial artist and those gray-blue eyes of his, reminded her of a wolf's. His very personality was like that predator, strong, sure and so... feral.
However, Jon had a few quirks in which Nodoka had found odd. For one thing, he would never take her out on dates during nights of a full moon. He always seemed to be on edge whenever he came near anything that had silver in it. He'd always insist on plastic forks, knives and spoons if there were no chopsticks around. Furthermore, at times he would act as if he were some caged animal; pacing about, looking as if he were being watched.
Despite his idiosyncrasies, Nodoka and Jon seemed fated to marry. Even her father had approved of him. He had come from a very good and wealthy family. Sadly though, that was not to be. Three months after Jon had come into her life; a terrible accident took her beloved from her. A week before they were about to announce their betrothal to her family, Jon had been aboard a jetliner bound for London when it suddenly exploded in midair. All the passengers and crew had been killed. Jon's fiancée had become heartbroken at the news and had mourned for weeks.
However, there was another matter that the distraught woman had to consider. A week before Jon had died; Nodoka had learned that she was pregnant. Even in modern Japan, many people still looked down on unmarried mothers and their bastard children. Jon's child would need a father.
Nodoka's father had pulled in a few favors and contacted a clan, in which they had some ties with her family. With a large dowry being offered, it wasn't long before a suitor was found. The marriage was quickly arranged and she became Mrs. Genma Saotome. They had not told the Saotomes that Nodoka was already pregnant and when Ranma was born, everyone naturally assumed that he was Genma and Nodoka's child. Only his mother and her family knew the real truth.
As Genma's wife brought her thoughts back to the present, she wondered just what Ranma and Genma were doing now.
She wasn't the only one...
Somewhere in Japan, in the forests near Hiroshima...
A feral figure raced though the forests with inhuman speed and agility. The deer it was chasing had no chance of escaping. Within seconds, the hunter had caught up to its prey and ended the chase, as it brought down a set of razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaws onto the deer's neck and twisted. The neck of the dear snapped in two, causing instant death and the predator then settled down to eat its kill.
The predator was unlike anything that could be found in nature. It seemed to resemble the timber wolves of Alaska, but it larger, far larger. Its general form was bipedal, but was covered in dense, grayish fur with white highlights. Its form was powerfully built and steeped in magical energies. It sported a pair of loose, faded pants and near the small of its back, protruded a thick bushy tail. Its head was shaped to that of a wolf's, but its eyes seemed to reflect a kind of human quality. The front limbs were lightly furred, and on each paw, or rather hand; it sported a set of wicked-looking claws. Its lower limbs had elongated feet that terminated into canine toes. Before setting down to dine on the deer that it had just killed, the beast let off a howl to the full moon above. This was a werewolf, and not just any werewolf. This was Ranma's biological father, Jon Talbain!
Contrary to the reports, Talbain had not perished when that jetliner had exploded. Only the purity of silver or certain magical spells and attacks could fatally harm him. The curse of lycanthropy had been passed down throughout his family's bloodlines since ancient times, making him a member of the Old Races. Another general term for him was Darkstalker.
Jon had always felt out of place as a werewolf in modern times, but he and his family had gradually integrated into human society, keeping their lupine heritage a closely guarded family secret. The lycanthropy gene in their DNA was always carried over to the male members of their family tree, though it could also be passed through a bite. Due to this danger of accidental infection, all members of the Talbain family that became werewolves were required to wear magical talismans to keep that part of their curse in check.
The power that was granted to them through their wolf heritage made the Talbains extraordinary fighters and many had taken up the martial arts. Jon had come to Nodoka's family to learn their techniques. It was there that he had met and fallen in love with the daughter of the dojo's master. He had been all set to marry her and reveal his family's secret. However, after the plane explosion, he knew that he could never see her again, without revealing to the world as to how he had survived. Jon later learned that Nodoka had married and had decided that it was for the best. Since then, he had been traveling the world, improving on his martial arts skills.
As the wolf-man dined on the freshly killed deer, his thoughts were of his lost love and he began wondering just what their children would have been like.
"Now get in there and learn the Cat Fist!" Genma said as he shoved his son into the pit and covered the opening with a heavy lid. He looked about and nodded, as he detected no sign of anyone nearby. His decision to have the boy do the training at night seemed to be the best way to avoid any further entanglements with the law. He had already accumulated a sizeable amount of outstanding warrants for breaking and entry, assault and petty theft. Half the cats in that pit had been family pets, in which Genma had (ahem), borrowed from nearby houses.
Six-year-old Ranma plummeted to the bottom of the deep depression and landed hard on his rear. In an instant, he heard the yowling and hissing of dozens of hungry cats as they swarmed toward him like a school of piranha. The boy began screaming as sharp claws and teeth began ripping into his flesh. The felines had not been fed for over two weeks and they would tear the boy to pieces in order to sate their hunger. The smell of fish drove them to sheer madness as the cats began piling onto the boy.
Ranma screamed out in pain and horror as the felines continued to tear into him. Little by little, he began to feel his hold on reality slip away. He looked up at the lid, which covered the pit and saw that a minute shaft of light was filtering through a crack. His arms reached out toward it, like a drowning man grasping at a life preserver. The light seemed so warm and inviting and he felt himself drawn toward it as the cats smothered him in a sea of fur.
Deep within the small boy, something had begun to stir. A reaction of both biological and magical properties had begun, as the tiny sliver of moonlight started to give the boy a newfound strength. The weight of the cats seemed to lessen and he could no longer feel their claws and teeth biting into his skin. In fact, they had begun to shy away from him.
The sensation within Ranma increased geometrically as a kind of rage toward the felines suddenly appeared. Then, it happened...
Genma was startled off his perch on the lid when he heard that beastly howl and wondered just what was going on down in the pit. Then his blood went cold as he heard a feral snarl and the sounds of rending flesh and screeching cats. Then suddenly, the lid exploded into a shower of splinters as something shot out of the pit and bolted from the site.
Genma shook his head to clear it and crawled toward the pit. His nose wrinkled, as he smelled the waste in which the cats had accumulated from being starved. However, there was another scent that was even more overpowering. When he looked down with a flashlight into the pit, he felt a need to hurl. Scattered along the floor of the pit were the mauled remains of the cats. Not a single one of them was alive. Several of them had been torn into unidentifiable chunks. The entire pit had been converted into a slaughterhouse. However, the most important detail was that the Cat Fist trainee was gone.
Jon Talbain lifted his head when his sensitive nose caught the scent of something... no, someone that was nearby. He also caught a few other scents that were overlapping the main one. He detected the odor or organic waste, some fish, feline fur and most importantly, blood. Then he began concentrating on the main scent and noted that his magical senses were also picking up something that was very similar to his own aura. That was when something burst into the clearing.
Father and son confronted each other for the first time.
The older werewolf immediately recognized the faint aura of Nodoka as well as her scent on the feral child. He also detected some similarities in Ranma's personal aura as compared to his own. Was it possible? Then Talbain realized that there was no other explanation. After all, his werewolf gene would have been passed onto all of his male descendants so therefore, this boy... was HIS son.
Ranma the Werewolf crouched down low as he prepared to attack. He was only three-tenths the size of his opponent and Jon outmassed him by more than triple. However, with the emergence of his lupine heritage, the boy was running on pure instinct. His hybrid form was colored black with a few silver highlights to the face, ears, hands and feet. A bushy tail had sprouted and was hanging over the pants' waistband. His gi top had several shred marks and was close to bursting at the seams, due to the added muscle mass. However, there were still some tufts of baby fur near his ears and cheeks, like a newborn puppy. He would not be fully defined until his teens. His enhanced hearing and sense of smell were on the alert. His night vision was excellent and though he didn't have the raw power or skill of his sire, his hybrid form strong enough to rip a normal adult to pieces. He continued to growl and snarl at his father as he was unsure what to do.
Jon Talbain decided to take a neutral posture as he extended one arm in a non-threatening manner. Then he uttered one word.
To be continued?