Disclaimer: Exit, disclaimers, legal evasions, and all that mumbo jumbo... stage left.
* *: Thoughts
<" ">: Chinese language
A Little Motherly Love?
Somewhere in China, a few days before Ranma met his mother, a fateful conversation was taking place between two individuals.
"What? Are you certain?" A shadowy figure said as he spoke to another who was clothed in a dark cloak.
"Yes. It seems that the accursed Unseen Light had not been completely snuffed out. One practitioner of that discipline still exists."
"I had thought that priest Shogo had perished and left no heirs!"
"It seemed that he had taught another in secret. Someone by the name of... Koga Shinuria. And though he too had later died, the power of the Unseen Light has a new user."
"Who is this disciple?"
"Our spies in Japan had heard of rumors of a blind boy who claims to be a master of the Unseen Light. His name is... Ranma Saotome."
"Then the mission of the Shadow’s Eye is not yet complete. You know what to do... Shindo."
The other cloaked figure nodded as he removed his hood, revealing a hard-looking face with a cold expression in his eyes. The most eerie fact about his eyes was that they were as black as the sea during a moonlit night. There were no pupils nor irises, just a black void. Just like the inner void in his heart.
"The Unseen Light shall not shine so long as the Shadow’s Eye casts its gaze upon the world."
Present time, in Japan...
"Ranma! Oh Ranma! My little boy has finally been brought back to me!" Nodoka cried out as she rushed toward her son and embraced him while letting loose a torrent of tears. She was releasing more than ten years of repressed sadness and loneliness as she tightened her hug on Ranma.
The blind boy wasn’t really sure of what to do as his biological mother continued bawling her eyes out against his chest, soaking the front of his shirt. He then turned his head to the people who were standing near the door and gestured with a nod that he and Nodoka needed some time alone. However as Jasmine understood Ranma’s silent message and began ushering the others out of the room, his eyes narrowed as he tapped his right ear with an index finger. This indicated that he wouldn’t take kindly to any eavesdropping and would know if they tried to listen in on their conversation.
Once everyone was gone and the two were alone, Ranma gently pushed himself out of Nodoka’s embrace and began holding her face in his hands. He began tracing his sensitive fingertips across her features as his mind started forming an image of her face. He could detect the telltale traits and resemblance between himself and his biological mother. There was also the fact that her aura was similar to his own, though it was nowhere near as focused as his was. There was no doubt about it. She was his real mother. Now the real questions remained. Would she accept her son as he was and... was she like Genma?
"It’s... good finally... see you again... mother."
Nodoka nodded as she cleared her eyes of her tears and took a step back to gaze upon her son. He was exactly as Ryo Saeba had described him. Ranma was tall and very well-formed. He was quite handsome and appeared to be exactly as a man among men should be. She smiled back to the time that the City Hunter had urged her to destroy the contract that Ranma and Genma had signed. If the stories of Ranma being wanted by dozens of girls was true, then it seemed that the contract was no longer necessary.
"Ranma, my son... it good to have you home. I’ve missed you much!" She embraced Ranma again and felt as if she was going to cry once more. "You have grown so much since I last saw you. You are indeed a man among men."
Nodoka waved it off. "Nothing. It is nothing that you should be concerned about. What is important is that you and I are together again and that we are a family again. I have been told that you are blind now and there is nothing that can be done about it."
Ranma winced a bit at his mother’s reference to his disability, but nodded as she went on.
"It doesn’t matter. We are together again and I understand that it is Genma that was responsible. Rest assured that I will deal with him." Her voice took on a slightly hard edge as she thought about what she was going to do with Genma when she caught up with him. "Now, I shall have your old room ready for you when you move back and..."
This caught Ranma off guard. "Move back? What room?"
"Why your old room of course. You haven’t been home since you were five and you are going to live with me again aren’t you and rejoin the...?"
Ranma stopped her by raising a hand and took a deep breath. "Mother... please. You must understand... this is very hard for me to tell you this, but... I’m not going with you."
"I’m not going to rejoin the Saotome register. I have been thinking about it for a long time and I’ve just decided that the Saotome name has already given me enough grief. I’ve only been using the name out of sentimentality and because I wanted to meet with you. Added to the fact are the promises and engagements that stupid idiot made in my name."
"Ranma! I know that Genma is somewhat of a moron, but a boy should not speak of his father so disrespectfully!"
"Mother..." It sounded somewhat strange to Ranma to call Nodoka that, though it was appropriate. "There are other reasons why I do not want the Saotome name. Are you aware of the crimes that he committed over the last ten years, specifically concerning me?"
"Well, I have been informed by Mr. Saeba about the petty crimes and theft that Genma had committed and had you do during your training journey, but..."
"Did he tell you about the fact that if I take up the Saotome name, then I will have to uphold more than a dozen engagements and that I will have multiple fiancées?"
"Multiple fiancées? What are you talking about?" Nodoka asked.
Ranma took another deep breath as he gestured for her to sit at a nearby table. After his biological mother took a seat, the blind master of the Unseen Light began explaining.
The roof of Pepper’s Place suddenly exploded off its foundations and did a three hundred and sixty degree flip before landing back onto the building.
Inside, Nodoka was shaking with disbelief. "He engaged you to HOW many girls?!"
The vision-impaired martial artist shook his head sadly as he replied. "By my count, about fifteen... so far. He even had me promised to triplets."
Nodoka blanched as she heard this. It was one thing to have so many girls after him to prove one’s manliness, but it was quite another to have sold off her only offspring like some piece of merchandise. Genma had completely dragged the Saotome name through the mud to fill his fat stomach.
Ranma paused for a long moment, then added, "If you don’t believe me, I do have evidence of each time a girl came to claim me at the village. And Elder Cologne had informed me that Mr. Saeba is also aware of the multiple engagements. He wanted to wait a while before telling you, but I feel that you should be aware of EVERYTHING that moronic waste of a human being has done to screw up my LIFE!" Ranma’s voice took on a very bitter edge as he thought about that stupid panda man.
Nodoka took a deep breath to regain her self-control and gave her son a disapproving glare. "Ranma! Though I do not approve of your father’s past actions, he is STILL your father and the head of our household!" Unfortunately for the blind martial artist, though Nodoka was a kind, caring person at heart, she was also... a traditional Japanese housewife. And despite the fact that she totally disapproved of her husband’s crimes, she still hoped that her son and husband could reconcile their differences and that they could be a family again. However, that dream seemed to be more and more unlikely.
"So what?" The teen retorted, making no effort to keep his disgust of his biological father to himself. "What exactly do I OWE to him for me to show respect?"
"RANMA! I WILL NOT HAVE YOU SHOWING SUCH LACK OF RESPECT FOR YOUR FATHER AND OUR FAMILY NAME!"
Ranma’s temper began to boil as he responded. "AND WHAT KIND OF RESPECT SHOULD I SHOW TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEITHER EARNED IT NOR DESERVED IT?"
"DESPITE ALL HE HAS DONE, HE IS STILL YOUR FATHER!"
The disciple of Koga snorted. "SOME FATHER! THAT WAS JUST A CRUEL TRICK OF FATE! AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED, HE STOPPED BEING MY FATHER THE MOMENT WHEN HE TOOK ME ON THAT TRAINING JOURNEY! AFTER THAT PIT OF CATS, I DON’T EVEN CONSIDER HIM AS A HUMAN BEING!"
Ranma trembled and clenched his fists as he tried to calm down. It was a losing battle as he stood up and turned his back to Nodoka. "To him, I was just a meal ticket! A piece of property to be bartered off to the highest bidder, then offer for sale again whenever his fat belly was empty! Not once, not twice, but Kami-Sama only knows how many times! You say that I’M showing disrespect to the family name? Well my ‘father’ had dragged the Saotome name through the mud, every time he broke a promise to those families and engaged me to all those girls!"
"Ranma..." Nodoka warned in a very stern voice, but the Unseen Light Fighter would not hear of it. It was a very rare occurrence for Ranma to lose his self-control, but this was one of those times in which he had to let his feelings out full blast.
"Do you know just how ASHAMED I was to be related to him? Of every time a girl with her father or mother came to the village and announced herself as my fiancée, because of some little deal that Genma made with her? Do you know what it’s like to be considered as just property? To be sold off for a meal or money? And do you know how many times I wished for you to be there for me? To stop him from doing these things? Well do you?"
Nodoka became silent as she heard this. Ranma’s anger and bitterness toward her was very disturbing. This was not how she wanted her first meeting with her son to be.
The Unseen Light fighter continued on. "And where WERE you? Where were you for the last TEN years? What about those two years after I became blind? Where were you when Genma abused me, beat me, and called me weak for becoming blind? It was his fault that I lost my sight in the first place!"
Ranma cut her off. "Not one word! Not one letter! Not even a single call! I didn’t know if you were alive or dead! I only had the dream of finding you again that kept me going for the last decade!"
Nodoka stood up and took a step toward her son. "Ranma, please calm down. I received postcards and letters from your father constantly, telling me that the training was going well and that you were doing fine. I had no reason to doubt Genma as he was my husband after all. I only started to doubt those letters recently. That is why I hired Mr. Saeba to find you!"
"TEN YEARS... mother." Ranma gritted at the word. "It took you ten years before you decided to look for me! Every day, every night, I would think of you and would ask Elder Cologne and my Amazon mother Jasmine to help me find you! I hoped and hoped that you would be able to understand me and give me some answers to who I was. But... it seems that everything that I had wished for about you... was nothing more than an empty dream."
Nodoka didn’t like the sound of this. "W-W-What are you talking about?"
Ranma’s mouth became a firm line as he said without emotion. "I had thought that you might be different from Genma, but I can... see with my heart that you are not."
"What do you mean?"
"Despite all that I’ve told you, and all the evidence that Mr. Saeba had shown to you. You still expect me to obey that lying piece of trash out of a sense of duty that a son should toward his father. You think that the honor of the Saotome name can be restored that way? It’s gone! It died when Genma took me on that blasted training trip!"
"Ranma, please understand that I only let Genma take you away because he promised to me that you would become a man among men and..." Nodoka’s voice trailed off as she almost told him about the Seppuku Pledge.
However, Ranma’s emotions were taking control of his mind at the moment. He snarled a bit as he snapped at her, letting his anger and frustration choose his words, words that he would later regret. "A MAN AMONG MEN?! IS THAT WHY YOU LET HIM TAKE ME AWAY?! SO THAT HE COULD TURN ME INTO SOMEONE LIKE HIM?! IS THAT IT?!"
"Yes, I mean no... I mean..." Ranma’s sudden flash of intuition had caught Nodoka off-guard. Ten years ago, Nodoka had some very strange definitions of what a man among men was supposed to be and Genma was the role model of those ideals. Her definitions had changed after the City Hunter had informed her about Genma’s crimes and what had happened to her son.
That was when Ranma’s anger hit the boiling point. "SO THAT WAS IT?! YOU WANTED ME TO BE LIKE HIM?! TO BE A DIRTY, ROTTEN, LYING BASTARD WITH NO HONOR WHATSOEVER AND WHO WOULD SELL OUT HIS SON’S FUTURE FOR A FISH, A BOWL OF RICE AND TWO PICKLES?! DESPITE ALL THAT HE‘S DONE TO ME AND ALL THE PEOPLE HE HAD HURT WITH HIS LIES AND THIEVING WAYS, YOU STILL EXPECT ME TO GO TO HIM AND OBEY HIS WISHES? TO CONTINUE LETTING HIM RUN AND RUIN MY LIFE?! IS THAT YOUR IDEA OF A MAN AMONG MEN?!"
"Ranma, please..." Nodoka felt tears starting to well up in her eyes. She couldn’t believe that her newly-found son was becoming so hostile toward her.
That was when Ranma... lost it. "NEVER! IF TAKING BACK THE SAOTOME NAME MEANS THAT I HAVE TO BECOME LIKE GENMA, THEN I HEREBY RENOUNCE MY BIRTH FAMILY NAME, PERMANENTLY!"
"Ranma, please listen to me! Don’t be so hasty! We can work this out!" Tears were now rolling down her cheeks as she reached out to tough her son.
The blind martial artist swatted her hand away. "NO! THERE IS NO RANMA SAOTOME! I AM RANMA OF THE JOKETSUZOKU! SON OF JASMINE!" Ranma shook as his fists clenched even tighter, making his knuckles turn white. Then, in a bare whisper that was filled with sorrow, he said to Nodoka, "Go. Leave... Nodoka Saotome." At this point, Ranma no longer thought of calling her ‘mother’ as appropriate.
"But... I’m your mother, Ranma. I..."
"I don‘t know you. I had hoped to find the mother of Ranma Saotome, but instead... all I found was the WIFE of Genma. If you are so determined to restore the honor of Saotome family name, then you may do so, but I will not have any part in it. It cannot be saved, nor is it worth the effort! Now... go!" Ranma felt himself close to shedding tears, and remembered how his father berated him for crying. However, he didn’t consider himself as Genma’s son and therefore, anything that Genma had said to him was to be disregarded.
Nodoka shook her head in total disbelief then let off a cry of anguish as she ran from the room with her face in her hands.
At then moment, Ranma felt his heart shatter like fragile crystal.
Ryo Saeba ran after Nodoka when she burst out of the room and sped past him and the Amazons. He had been trying to get close to those three Amazon beauties, Honey, Silk and Satin while they were waiting outside in the main lobby of the restaurant. He had been especially interested in that voluptuous, blonde healer, but when they started hearing shouting and then the door burst open, the City Hunter knew that something had gone seriously wrong.
"Mrs. Saotome! Wait!"
Nodoka however, did not hear him as she continued to cry and run toward the front door.
As the Amazons watched the detective chase after his client, Jasmine turned her gaze toward the room where Nodoka had just come out of and shook her head. Without a word, she got up and walked toward the open door. When she came to the room’s entrance, she stopped when she heard sobbing coming from within. She took a deep breath and stepped inside. There she saw Nodoka’s... HER son sitting on a chair and slumped over the table with his head buried in his arms.
"Ranma?" Jasmine said tentatively.
However, the blind teen was in no mood to answer as he continued to cry.
At Nodoka’s home, some time later...
"He hates me!" Nodoka sobbed.
In the living room, Ryo Saeba took a deep breath before trying to console the distraught woman. "Mrs. Saotome... I’m... sorry that your first meeting with your son went badly, but... I did warn you that something like this might happen. There’s still a chance though. I think I can arrange it for you to meet with Ranma again, after we give him some time. I‘m sure that he didn‘t mean all those things."
"And then what?" Genma’s wife said without looking at him. Her face was in her hands as she continued to weep. "You heard him. He doesn’t want his family name back. He doesn’t want anything to do with Genma... or me."
"And can you blame him?" A new voice asked.
Both Nodoka and the City Hunter looked to where the new voice came from and they saw Ranma’s adopted mother standing at the front of the living room.
"Who are you?! How did you get in?!" Ranma’s birth mother stood up angrily to glare at the stranger.
Jasmine glared back at Nodoka as she answered. "I came here at the request of Mr. Saeba. And as for who I am... I am Jasmine."
Nodoka’s eyes widened as she realized that this woman was the one who had raised her son since the time he had lost his sight.
"I’M HIS MOTHER!"
"That... is highly questionable from where I stand." Jasmine said in a level tone.
"Who are you to judge?"
"And why am I not suited to judge you as I see fit?" The healer asked coldly. "I am after all, the one who raised Ranma, when YOU abandoned him to the care of that idiot Genma, ten years ago."
"Mrs. Saotome, Ms. Jasmine, please! I called the two of you together so that you could work things out!" Ryo held up his hands and got between the two women as Nodoka rose from her seat to confront her rival for her son’s affections. "I don’t want either of you to..."
Jasmine held up a hand, then gave Nodoka an especially cold stare. "Do not worry, Mr. Saeba. I did not come here to battle. If I had, then she would have been DEAD by now."
"You dare to threaten me in my own house?!" Nodoka said incredulously.
"I am only stating a fact, as well as giving you a warning, if you are even thinking of attacking me." Jasmine retorted. "You hurt Ranma, and my son is very dear to me."
"Yes. MY son. I raised him. I fed him. I disciplined him. I gave him a home. I helped teach him to overcome that disability that YOUR idiotic husband had caused, due to his total disregard for his child’s safety and well being. Ranma has a good chance of making it in this world. As far as I’m concerned, he IS my son, even if I hadn’t given birth to him myself."
"You may resent me, you may even hate me, but I think it is because I got to be a part of Ranma’s life, while you GAVE him away to Genma to do with as he pleased."
"I didn’t give him away! It was part of his training to be..."
"A man among men?" Jasmine finished. "Like that scum, you call a husband? If he were my husband, I would have EXECUTED him a long time ago. However, the fact remains that you did bring Ranma into this world, and for that I am thankful. We are his mothers. You raised him for the first five years, while I raised him for the last eight. The big question STILL remains... what do we do about this now?"
Nodoka clenched her fists and was considering pulling out her katana, despite her lack of skill with it. Luckily, the City Hunter placed a hand on her shoulder and shook his head, telling her with his eyes that any further hostilities would not help in this situation.
Ranma’s birth mother reluctantly nodded as she took a deep breath and motioned for Jasmine to sit at the chair opposite to them.
On top of Pepper’s Place, Ranma was playing on his flute as he thought back to his first meeting with his... mother.
<Mother, heh! Now that was a joke.> Ranma thought as his music took on a more saddened tone. <I should have known better. She married Genma after all.> He stopped his playing to think about what had happened. <Then again, I shouldn’t have let my emotions cloud my better judgment. Maybe I was a bit harsh on her.> The blind martial artist continued to ponder as he resumed to play. He was so deep in his thoughts that he almost missed the presence of another person, as he began to approach him with a stealth that put the best ninjas to shame. When the figure came within twenty meters of Ranma, the Unseen Light practitioner stopped playing and perked up his head with all his extraordinary senses on alert. He was instantly in a defensive stance as he reached out with his seventh sense. His ears, nose, and sixth sense were primed as they searched for any sign of the intruder.
There was no answer, but Ranma began receiving the spiritual impressions of the stranger and a sensation of... darkness. It was a kind of icy coldness that made him tremble slightly, and his metaphysical perceptions felt as if they were being smothered. He sensed a malevolence that he had never encountered before and it was directed at him. Something wanted him... dead!
The Amazon healer and warrior moved with a speed that made the most graceful of jungle cats seem clumsy. There was a large explosion as the spot he had been on a moment ago suddenly blew up. Making a series of backflips to evade the flying debris, while placing his flute back in its hiding space, he then landed on another roof and reached out with his senses.
<There!> Making contact with his unknown adversary’s aura, he cupped his hands, pulled them back and let loose with a ki blast.
The blue-white bolt of ki went screaming toward its target like a homing missile and struck hard. However, Ranma was astonished when his senses told him that his projectile had no effect. The energy had winked out the moment it made contact with his opponent’s aura. The darkness that he had sensed before had snuffed out his ki blast like a birthday candle. It was then that the stranger spoke.
"Oh come on now. Surely a master of the Unseen Light can do better than that."
To Ranma’s ears, the voice had a chilling iciness to it and there was no doubt in his mind what his attacker wanted. Ranma sensed a kind of bloodlust in that presence. He wanted his blood and would stop at nothing to spill it.
The stranger smiled as he prepared to attack again. "So, you know why I am here. Your sixth and seventh senses are indeed very developed. Yes, I am here... to kill you."
Jasmine’s adopted son had no time to wonder what his attacker was talking about or how he knew about his other senses. Ranma narrowly dodged another series of attacks, which caused more sections of roofing to be blown off.
<What’s going on? I should be able to use just my sixth and seventh senses detect his attacks in advance, but it’s taking ALL my senses just to avoid them! > Ranma had discovered that something about that stranger was dulling his extra perception abilities. He should have been able to detect the attacks with several seconds to spare, but he was now only barely evading by scant milliseconds. He was also relying on changes of air currents, vibrations and sound to discern which direction the attacks were coming from.
<And why did my Spirit Seeker fail? It hit him dead on, but it didn’t hurt him in the least!>
Leaping on another roof, Shindo frowned as he tried to hit his opponent with another ki blast and missed. <Hmmm, this one is very skilled and his sixth and seventh senses are still working, even though my Shadow Aura is dampening them. I may have to get closer in order to render them useless.>
Shindo began moving in a crisscross pattern, closing the distance between them, while increasing the intensity of his dark aura. To a sighted person, Shindo didn’t appear to have any aura, but to Ranma’s senses, it was if he was enveloped in a spreading cloak of darkness, which was causing the images in Ranma’s head to become blurry and indistinct.
As Shindo neared his prey, Ranma suddenly tripped over a loose tile and went down.
<I tripped?! No way! How could I have misjudged where that loose tile was?> Ranma quickly got to his feet as he heard the sound of someone else landing on the same roof he was on.
Ranma had his staff out and ready as his enemy stood some twenty-five feet away.
"Surprised that your perceptions are now getting less defined?" Shindo taunted as he held up two sais. "Soon, you will not have the seventh sense to guide you anymore and your sixth will follow. Then again, your enhanced senses will be of no use to you, once you are dead."
"Who are you? Why are you attacking me?"
"Hmmmm, very well. I shall tell you before you die. I am Shindo... of the Shadow’s Eye."
As soon as Ranma heard the name ‘Shadow’s Eye,’ his blood ran cold. He began remembering back to his training with his master Koga and the stories he had told of the only rival to the Unseen Light, the darker side which was known as the Shadow’s Eye. The school of blind fighters whose sole purpose... was to kill all users of the Unseen Light.
"Ah, so you know of my discipline." Shindo said with a grin.
"Yes, Master Koga did tell me of it." Ranma growled as he readied himself, then stiffened, as the images in his head became even more indistinct, until finally... there was nothing but darkness.
"How does it feel?" Shindo asked with a hint of cruelty in his tone. "Your seventh sense is now gone, isn’t it? Your sixth sense is probably working at only ten percent by now, and it too will fade shortly. It seems that my Shadow Aura has now snuffed out your Unseen Light. A pity, though I can still ‘see’ you!" He then struck forward with his sais, aiming the point of one at Ranma’s heart.
Using the sound of the sudden rush of air as his guide, Ranma twisted out of the way. The point of the Shindo’s weapon missed its target and grazed Ranma’s shoulder. The blind Amazon fighter followed through with a roundhouse kick and managed to tag his opponent in the back, knocking him away. However, Ranma felt a slight burning sensation and knew that his enemy’s weapons had been poison-tipped. It wasn’t enough to kill him instantly, but he didn’t finish this fight soon, he would not live past morning.
Shindo growled as he got back to his feet and held up his weapons for his final attack. "A very good move, but you are finished! By now, your sixth sense is all but gone and your remaining senses will NOT save you from my final attack." Shindo began focusing his Shadow Aura into his weapons as he prepared to strike.
Ranma knew in his gut that something was happening, but with his seventh sense gone and his sixth just faintly detecting the danger, he was at a disadvantage. He had to focus every ounce of will he had left into his senses and hoped that they would pull him through. It was then that Shindo launched his Shadow Thrust Attack.
The sais let loose with twin beams of dark energy that would pierce Ranma’s heart like a rapiers. There was no sound, no rush of air currents or any scent for Ranma to detect. Without his sixth or seventh sense, Ranma seemed doomed.
However, dying was not on Ranma’s agenda. He had endured through a lifetime of hardships and he wasn’t about to give up now. Just as Shindo launched his attack, Ranma focused his mind on one thing, restarting his sixth sense. He concentrated as hard as he could and for one brief moment, he felt a slight buzzing in his head. It was enough as he swerved to the left, narrowly evading the attack as it blasted two small, deep holes in a wall behind him.
"WHAT?!" Shindo cried out as he missed.
That brief cry was all Ranma needed as he used his hearing to zero in on his enemy’s position. He thrust out his staff and directed one end at him.
Shindo was pushed back a hundred feet as the staff slammed into his solar plexus. He hit another wall hard and made a deep impression in it as his opponent smiled. With Shindo’s Shadow Aura now further away, Ranma’s seventh and sixth had come back and he had a clear picture of his surroundings. Ranma began focusing his ki into the staff and launched his attack straight down its length. Unlike his pervious ki blast, this one would not be engulfed by the Shindo’s aura as the staff provided a direct conduit to its target.
"AAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!" The Shadow’s Eye assassin was in agony as Ranma’s energy flooded his own ki pathways. Several of those pathways were near bursting as Shindo desperately tried to wrench the pole free. He finally managed to break away, but his own senses were now frazzled. His perceptions were fuzzy and he was hearing a kind of rushing noise as his head throbbed in pain. He slumped down to his knees as he shook his head to clear it. It was then that he sensed the approach of others and decided that his chance to kill Ranma was gone... for now. However, this was not the end.
He began leaping away from the scene, and though his own perceptions were unbalanced, he was still able to away as Ranma’s Amazon friends came came to their comrade’s aid.
"Ranma! Are you all right?" Pepper asked as she, Lilac, Perfume, Shampoo and Cologne came to where he was now on his knees. They had come onto the roof of the restaurant when they heard the commotion, but by then, Ranma and Shindo were already hopping rooftops and had ended up nearly ten blocks away.
Ranma was currently pressing some pressure points on his body to slow the spread of the poison, while making some of his medicinal supplies appear. However, the ordeal had left him both physically and mentally exhausted. After finishing up with the last of the pressure points, he collapsed forward.
"I cannot understand how this Shindo person had come so close to killing you." Cologne remarked after Ranma had told her and the others what had happened. Currently, Jasmine was still at the Saotome residence and did not know about her son’s near-death experience.
"Yes. I thought that your seventh and sixth sense made it impossible for someone to get within fifty feet of you, without you knowing." Pepper said.
"It is difficult... but not impossible." Ranma said slowly as he lay in a bed with his shoulder bandaged up. He brought up his knees and wrapped his arms around them. He was silent for a very long while.
"Then how did this person do it?" Cologne asked.
Ranma continued to be silent for a few minutes more before finally answering. "It’s because... he’s been trained in a martial art that is the only rival to the Unseen Light."
"What? There is another martial art for the blind?" Cologne became very interested in this information. The other Amazons also became attentive as Ranma began explaining to them what his master Koga had told him.
"Once upon a time... fifteen hundred years ago to be precise... the Unseen Light was born... and with it, came its darker side, the Shadow’s Eye."
In a hotel room, we find Shindo sitting cross-legged on the floor and seemingly deep in mediation. However, his inner being was in turmoil as he strove to right his disrupted ki pathways. Ranma had very nearly caused his death with the Spirit Thrust technique. The Shadow's Eye fighter had gravely underestimated his opponent. It was now clear to him that the adopted Amazon had a greater mastery over the Unseen Light than Koga or Shogo.
Just as he was focusing his concentration on the last of his unstable ki lines, he suddenly sensed the essence of another. Though they were thousands of miles apart, Shindo and his master could easily communicate with each other through the Void.
*You have failed, Shindo. * Shindo's master scolded.
*I... apologize, Master. I did not expect Koga's disciple to be that gifted. * Shindo replied.
*What would you have expected? Koga had been a formidable adversary. It would be logical that his student would be as powerful, if not more so. *
* I will not fail again, Master. * Shindo assured.
*You know the penalty if you do not succeed. The Void may give us strength, but it can just as easily take that strength away. Failure to carry out its will entitles to a fate far worse than death. *
"The Void?" Cologne asked.
Ranma shrugged as he tried to explain. "Well... that's what it's been called and it is the source of power for all users of the Shadow's Eye."
"What exactly is this... Void?" Shampoo asked.
"Well... the Void is to the Shadow's Eye as the Unseen Light is to me."
"You're not making any sense, Ranma." Pepper remarked.
"I suppose it is kind of confusing at first. I guess I should start at the beginning. Somewhere around 500 AD, a group of Zen monks was making a pilgrimage through China. They encountered a band of marauders and nearly all of the monks were slaughtered, except for eight members, who managed to escape. However, they did not get away totally unscathed."
"I have a feeling that I know what happened." Cologne said.
Ranma nodded. "You guess right. Four of them had been permanently blinded and had to rely on the others for guidance. All of them been seriously wounded and would have perished, had they not stumbled on a place of great good... and evil. It was an ancient shrine that was hidden deep within the forests near what is now Beijing."
"Shrine?" Cologne inquired. "And what exactly did they find in this place?"
"They found... both their salvation and their downfall." Ranma replied as he continued to tell the Amazons of his school's origins.
Outside Tokyo's limits...
A large predatory cat silently padded its way through the forests near the city. It had just recently escaped from a band of poachers who had captured it in China several weeks ago. They had intended to sell it to the zoo, but the tiger had managed to break free of its cage and fled into the wilderness near the coastlines. Now it was steadily making its way toward the city of Tokyo.
However, this was no ordinary Bengal tiger. What set this cat apart from its brethren was that its senses operated on much higher levels than what was considered normal. Not only were its senses of hearing, smell, and taste more acute, but it could also detect faint emanations of ki. The tiger had detected a familiar set of auras, which had arrived at the same port several weeks prior to its own unintentional trip across the sea. It had also picked up some recognizable scents as well.
Shinyu twitched the ears and sniffed about for Ranma's trail. (1)
To be continued...
Well, I know that it isn't much, but I wanted to make the origins of the Unseen Light and Shadow's Eye as a separate chapter, instead of one lengthy explanation. I also decided to add Ranma's pet tiger into the mix for a little bit of interest.
(1) Shinyu's capture by the poachers will be told in the second part of the Fighting Blind sidestory, which I'm finally restarting.