Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 and Project A-Ko belong to their respective creators and their characters are only being used to entertain the readers.
< >: Thoughts
[""]: Telepathic communication
Dragons, Dragons and More Dragons
"This is your last chance, peasant!" Herb warned as he took a stance and motioned for his entourage not to interfere. "Now you will hand over that sword!"
"And like I said before," Ranma growled. "If you want it, then youíre going to have to take it!"
"Very well." Herb smiled. "Then feel the power of the Dragon Prince!" The ruler of the Musk thrust out a hand and released a sphere of ki the size of a baseball. The projectile shot toward Ranma like a missile and exploded, causing a huge shockwave to resonate all over the area and a thick dust cloud to obscure Sojanís pupil from sight.
Cologneís eyes widened as her ki senses assessed the amount of power that Herb had unleashed. Though the ki blast looked small, it had actually had more than ten times the amount of energy than what it appeared. It had been compressed into a small orb and was unleashed when it had impacted. A top martial artist would have been killed instantly without preparation. It seemed that her intended son-in-law had been destroyed. However...
Herb smirked as he watched the dust cloud die down. He assumed that the fool had been totally obliterated. He was about to instruct his warriors to retrieve the sword, when the cloud cleared. His eyes widened in disbelief as he saw that Ranma was still standing... and untouched.
Ranma snorted a bit as he stood causally with one arm held out with the index finger extended. Before him was a circular field of green energy, which shimmered like the surface of an emerald.
"What is this?!" Herb demanded.
The dragon martial artist shrugged. "This? Oh, this is a simple technique known as the Dragon Scale Defense. It's quite handy for deflecting ki blasts and many magical spells. Itís MORE than enough to stop lame attacks like the one you used."
"You DARE mock the Dragon Prince of the Musk?!" Herb said in outrage.
Ranma snapped his fingers, dispersing the shield, then moved his hands behind his back. "Hmpf! Why should I respect someone who demands that I give my property to him, just because he says that heís entitled to it? So what if youíre a Dragon Prince? Considering where I came from, your title means squat."
"You shall learn to RESPECT my title!" Herb said, getting more irritated by the second.
"With that kind of an attitude, I doubt it."
"That so-called Dragon Prince is sure full of himself, isnít he?" Rike commented as he and his Golden Mane cousin watched their childhood friend take on the leader of the Musk Dynasty.
"Iím betting that he wonít last more than five minutes, at the most, against Ranma." Karisu wagered.
"Heh, thatís only if Ranma doesnít really TRY."
Herb thrust out his arms and made spiraling motion with them, releasing a torrent of wind, which would have reduced a forest into splinters. In the background, the Amazon matriarch recognized the technique as a horizontal version of the Hiryu Shoten Ha, or Rising Dragon Ascension Wave. Apparently, the Dragon Prince didnít need to lead his opponentís hot aura into a spiral to generate the cyclone.
Ranma however, snorted a bit. That was childís play compared to the techniques of Surek, the Dragon King of the West. With some fast movements from his own arms, he summoned up a counterblast of compressed air, splitting Herbís attack in two and directing the halves away from him, reducing them to gentle breezes.
"Oh come on now! I learned THAT trick when I was eight!" Surekís disciple then held up his arms like wings. "This is MUCH more effective! DRAGON WING BURST!" He then swung his arms down as if they were like wings, causing a massive wave of solid air to explode forth.
Herb immediately braced himself and tried to counter with another Horizontal Hiryu Shoten Ha, but Ranmaís attack was also charged with invisible ki. This energy exploded in deafening blasts of sound, when Herbís technique struck it. The Musk prince had to cover his ears after being exposed to painful sonic booms. At that moment, Ranma suddenly vanished from sight, only to reappear in front of Herb, half a heartbeat later.
The Musk Prince immediately began throwing punches, at speeds that would have been considered humanly impossible. However, though his dragon heritage gave him incredible abilities, to Ranma, Herb was still out of his league. His opponent was also descended from dragons, plus he had a Blood Bond and had been trained by the four Dragon Kings.
Dodging each of Herbís attacks with ease, Ranma then countered with a hard strike to Herbís gut. This caused his adversary to double over, since he was not used to being hit. A follow-up knee to the chin caused Herbís head to snap back up, then a straight kick to the abdomen sent the prideful prince flying backward several dozen feet. Ranma then stood in a neutral stance, and waited for Herbís next attack.
Cologne couldnít believe her eyes. Herb was reputed to be the most formidable fighter of the Musk, and here was her intended future son-in-law, making him look like a mere novice! She had no doubt in her mind that adding Ranma to the tribe would make the bloodlines invincible!
"Too easy." Ranma remarked as he watched Herb go tumbling. "If thatís all youíve got, then I shouldnít even waste my time."
Herb snarled as he got back to his feet and glared at the impudent peasant who dared to strike his noble person! "YOU STILL MOCK ME?! YOU GO TOO FAR!"
"Yak, yak, yak!" The dragon warrior waved off Herbís outrage. "So far, all Iíve seen are a couple of beginner tricks and a LITTLE bit of skill with the martial arts."
Herb became angrier by the second, then realized that his opponent was taunting him, trying to get him mad, therefore careless. He took a deep breath to calm himself down, then gave him a condescending smile. "So... you think that I am no challenge, eh?"
"What was your first clue?"
"You think too much of yourself. I had been holding back, since I thought you were no more than a mere peasant. Now, I see that you do have some talent."
"Oh? So you just realized it NOW?" Ranma asked in a mocking tone.
"Joke while you can. Now I won't be as lenient."
Ranma let off an annoyed sigh. "Look, are you going go into a long-winded speech about how powerful you really are? If you're going to just do that, then I REALLY don't think that you're worth my time. The way I see it, you've never had to go all out, since you've never had anyone who could match your power. Either that or you've had your lackeys do most of the dirty work." Ranma gestured with his thumb at the group standing behind their leader. "So why don't we cut to the chase? Just show me what you've got, and I mean all of it. IF you actually have the power to back up your claims."
"Impudent commoner! You will regret all your life for mocking the power of the Dragon Prince! And I assure you that it will be very short!"
Ranma shrugged. "Yeah, whatever! So let's see this so-called MIGHTY DRAGON POWER of yours."
"As you wish!" At that moment, Herb began focusing all of his dragon-enhanced energy.
Ranmaís smile became a little more pronounced as he noted the buildup in ki. "Well... now things are getting INTERESTING. So you're going to go full out, eh? Okay... let's see it all."
Herb focused his power even more and the entire area began to tremble and shake. Small rocks started floating up as the Amazons and the Musk warriors scattered for cover. A green aura that burned like a huge bonfire erupted around Herb. Finally, with the aura still blazing, Herb leveled off his energy emissions and the ground stopped quaking. He smiled smugly. "Now... do you truly comprehend my power? Have you learned the mistake of crossing the heir to the Musk Dynasty, or shall I simply obliterate you off the face of the Earth?"
Ranma shrugged again, took an easy stance and replied, "As I thought. Nothing but show. You're all talk and no action."
"WHAT?!" The Musk Ruler couldn't believe that this little worm dared to continue mocking his awesome power.
"You heard me, Herb. That light show's pretty, but ANYBODY can do that!" In an instant, Ranma let loose with his own aura, which glowed a brilliant blue. Though he was still holding back, it easily dwarfed Herb's, making his look like a lit match.
Ranma took great pleasure in seeing the shock on Herb's face, then added, "Oh and by the way Herb, you may be descended from a dragon, but you're not the ONLY one." In less than an instant, Ranma blurred forward and slammed a fist into Herb's face, catching him totally off guard. Despite the immense protection offered by his aura, Ranma's knuckles broke the Musk ruler's nose. Herb's aura winked out with the impact. Before he could fall backward, Ranma then clamped his extended hand on the prince's throat and brought his face up close with his. Their eyes locked with each other and that was when Herb noticed those slitted pupils.
<HIS EYES! HIS EYES ARE LIKE MINE!> He looked down the length of Ranma's arm and saw the Blood Bond symbol. Though his throat was being squeezed, he managed a strangled gurgle. "Y-Y-You are...?"
Ranma snorted. "Hmpf! And it took you THIS long to figure it out? How pathetic! You were so full of yourself and your heritage, that you didn't even consider the possibility of others who might be dragon descendants." He tossed Herb to the ground, slamming him to the dirt several yards away. "You haven't even begun to realize your potential, so let me show you what a dragon descendant can REALLY do!"
Ranma let off a roar and triggered his transformation to his Draconian form.
At that point, Herb soiled his royal garments.
Ranma's body instantly gained in height as his flesh took on a more scaly appearance. Leathery wings sprouted out from his back as his clothes reformed to accommodate them. His hands became talons and a reptilian tail sprouted from the small of his back. His overall build became more muscular and his head became more like that of a Komodo dragon's with winged crests on each side. When the transformation ended, Ranma's Draconian form stood at a height of EIGHT feet and looked as if he could tear the entire Japanese Defense Force to shreds with his bare hands, (which he could). Crimson Fang had relocated itself from his back to hang on his belt on the left side.
"Mmmm... I was hoping he'd go to full Dragon, but this is almost as good." Karisu commented as her eyes roamed over Ranma's body.
"So how do you like your Musk Princes, medium or extra crispy?" Rike joked.
Herb was sent skyward from one uppercut to the jaw. As he reached the apex of his ascent, (some two hundred meters), Ranma suddenly appeared before him. The Draconian fighter grabbed him by the front of his robes as he hovered in midair.
"Can you fly, oh mighty Dragon Prince?" Ranma asked in a very sarcastic tone. He gave Herb a few double-slaps before dropping him. As expected, Herb plummeted like a rock.
"I guess not." Sojan's pupil shrugged as he dived down, beating Herb to the ground and leaving a sonic boom in his wake. He then waited for the Musk Prince to make his landing. Herb desperately summoned up some wind currents to slow his descent. He managed to right himself and land on his feet before he hit the ground.
However, Ranma was far from finished in teaching Herb his lesson in humility. He took a deep breath, then let loose with a torrent of mystic flames from his mouth like a flame-thrower on steroids. The leader of the Musk Dynasty screamed as he was caught in the blast. He vigorously began putting out the flames, which had ignited his clothes and his hair.
"What's the matter? Can't take the heat? Here, let me cool you off!"
Ranma reared back and gave his wings a mighty flap, which stirred up a gust of wind that would have smashed a dozen groves of trees. The fires were blown away, along with the Musk Prince. Swept up like a leaf, Herb was thrown an additional fifty feet.
As the Musk Prince staggered back to his feet, his followers decided at that time to get involved. However, just as they began charging toward Ranma to aid their leader, two individuals appeared in their path, blocking their way.
Karisu wagged a finger at the Musk Warriors while shaking her head. "Ah, ah, ah. Stay out of this."
Rike nodded as he casually reared back with one hand then released a bolt of mystic lightning, blowing a huge crater in the ground in front of them. That display, along with the appearance of a very beautiful woman, (1) stopped them in their tracks. Herb would have to fight his own battle, which was turning out to be a losing one.
Herb was in pain like he had never felt before. It was a sensation that he was unused to feeling. As the leader of one of the most powerful tribes in existence, plus being a descendant from a dragon to boot, he had not thought there was anyone on Earth who could challenge him. However, Ranma was not only challenging the Musk Dynasty ruler, he was beating the royal SNOT out of him!
As Herb went down for the umpteenth time, (Ranma had thought he would make a good basketball), he was barely conscious. His body was bruised, burned and battered in places that he didnít even know he had. His pride was the only thing that kept him going at the moment.
Ranma snorted in disgust as he watched the Musk Dynasty ruler struggle back to his feet. The arrogant leader just didnít know when to quit.
"I... will... (gasp)... pay you back ten... no, a THOUSAND TIMES for this outrage!"
Ranma shook his head as he easily swatted aside Herbís pitiful attacks, knocking him back down in the process. He let off a tired a sigh as the Musk warrior fell to the ground, then decided that there wasnít any point to continuing the fight. His body shrunk back down to its human form as he addressed the now beaten and broken Herb.
"Stay down oh Mighty Dragon Prince." He said with a bit of sarcasm and pity. "This fight... is over."
With these words, he then delivered the coup de grace, which was a finger flick to the nose, (albeit a super-strong one). The force of his digit easily put Herb into la-la land.
A little later...
Ranma nodded as he and his childhood friends watched the Musk carry away their now unconscious ruler, then turned the two transformed dragons.
"So how long were you two just going to stand there and watch?"
"Well itís not like you NEEDED any help in fighting that pompous ass." Rike said with a smile and a shrug of his shoulders. He and his cousin then began laughing.
Sojanís pupil shook his head while smiling. "What are you doing here? Even though itís good to see you and..." He then looked about. He noticed that certain people were no longer present. "Hmmm, I could have sworn there was a bunch of Amazons around here." He then picked them up trying to mask their presence in a nearby grove of trees. "Oh, there they are."
"Oh, donít worry about them." Karisu waved off the warrior women. She snuggled up close to Ranma and took hold of an arm. "Come on Ranma, weíve got a lot of catching up to do!"
Rike nodded as he gave a sidelong glance to where the Amazons were hiding, raised up a hand and snapped his fingers. In an instant, the three disappeared in a huge bolt of lightning.
Cologne motioned for her group to come out of hiding after the trio had disappeared.
"Why we no go after Airen?" Shampoo asked.
"Not yet, child." The elder replied. "There is much to consider, especially since Son-in-law has now just defeated the Musk Prince Herb. If I know Herb, he won't take that defeat lightly. And then there are those two others as well. That girl seems to be very... familiar with him."
"Is she obstacle? Shampoo will kill!"
"You'd best not try anything just yet, at least not until I have more information. Things have just become more... interesting."
Nodoka was quite startled when a bolt of lightning suddenly came down from the heavens and struck her back yard. However, instead of leaving a large smoking hole in the ground, she instead saw her son and two others appear. She immediately stopped what she had been doing and went out to greet her offspring and his two guests.
Behind the house, Ranma frowned a bit at his rough-and-tumble childhood friend. "Rike, can't you use a quieter teleportation spell than the Lightning Express?"
The blue-haired teen smiled as he held up a hand and let a few sparks flash from his fingertips. "Hey, if you want to get to a place in a hurry, nothing beats it and it's got style."
"You just like to show off." Karisu said while still holding onto Ranma's arm.
Rike shrugged while nodding. "That too."
"Hello Ranma. I see you have brought guests."
The three turned to see Ranma's mother come out of the house. Rike and Karisu immediately remembered what they had been taught about human mannerisms, particularly about Japanese customs, and bowed.
"He will pay for this!" Herb gritted as one of his warriors was tending to his wounds. The others had set up camp for the night in a forest clearing just outside of Tokyo.
"Your majesty, you must rest." Mint pleaded as his ruler's anger was making him aggravate his injuries even further.
"How can I rest?" Herb raged as his thoughts went back to his humiliating defeat. "That peasant made a mockery of me! A descendant of dragons!"
"Begging your pardon... sir, but he was a dragon descendant too and a much more powerful one at that. That sword did belong to him and you really didn't have any right to it."
Herb wasn't listening as he was still in a fit of rage. "I will tell you what is mine and what is not!" He snapped. "That low-born cur will pay for humiliating me! That sword is mine by right, for only one of noble birth and lineage should have such a weapon! I will have it!"
"But sir... "
A low growl from his leader caused Mint to go silent. Apparently, pride and rage was clouding Herb's judgement and it would best for him to vent for a while. He gave a small bow to him before going off to help prepare the group for the night.
Herb brooded for a long while as he sat on the mat his followers had prepared for him. His thoughts were of revenge and how to defeat the one who had totally overwhelmed him. How could a peasant such as he be a descendant to dragons? He had no royal blood within him so how could he be more powerful? There had to be a way. If only he had access to more Dragon power...
It was at that moment that he began to feel an immense but erratic source of Dragon energy heading toward the city. The power seemed uncontrolled and undisciplined, but he could sense a source of untapped raw potential. It was a potential that could easily be taken away...
Herb began to smile, as Fate seemed to have handed him a way to get back at Ranma. He immediately called for his warriors to give them new orders.