Dual Destinies
As always, the characters of Ranma 1/2 belong to Rumiko Takahashi. 
Urd, Belldandy and Skuld of Oh My Goddess belong to their respective 
creator(s). I write this series purely because I enjoy it.
<>: Thoughts
{" "}: Telepathic communication
[ " "]: Foreign language other than Chinese.
                                  Chapter 15
                                 Soul Search
     They were too late.
     Ranma Red and Ranma Blue landed on the ground near the unmoving 
form of Akane Tendo. Their auras were glowing with unimaginable 
power as they had taxed their flight abilities to the limit in their attempt 
to stop her from ending her life. Unfortunately, Ranma Red's 
teleportation powers were still limited to short distances, and he could 
only transport himself to far away places that he had already been to. As 
a result, both he and his brother were forced to employ a slower means 
of travel, despite the fact that they nearly broke the sound barrier in 
their desperate flight to save their former fiancée.
     Both twins approached the body of the youngest member of the 
Tendo family with dread. They did not want to see her lifeless form, but 
they knew that her suicide was because of them. They stopped a foot 
away from the body, and crouched down. Each brother reached out with 
their arms and trembled as they picked up Akane and cradled her. Tears 
began welling up in their eyes as they gazed upon the remains of what 
was Akane Tendo.
     Her head was cocked at a bad angle and it was apparent that she had 
broken her neck on impact with the ground. Her eyes were half-closed 
and she had a calm, yet sickeningly serene look about her. Her school 
uniform was full of dirt and was tattered near the hem. Blood was 
oozing profusely from a head wound, but in her current state, it didn't 
     Akane was dead. She had willingly ended her life because she could 
not conceive it without Ranma. Both twins became overcome with grief 
as they realized they were the main cause of this tragedy. They soon 
became desperate as Ranma Red began invoking his healing spell in the 
lifeless form of his once-loved Akane. Ranma Red's aura glowed with 
more intensity as he poured massive amounts of ki and magical energy 
into her. Suddenly, her body began to straighten out as the damage to it 
was rectified. Her head moved back into correct alignment as the 
shattered neck was rejuvenated. All the cuts, scratches and bruises 
disappeared in an instant. The head wound was quickly sealed up as 
Ranma Red taxed his healing abilities to the limit. He was already 
exhausted from his desperate flight to save Akane, but he refused to 
stop. Finally, after several minutes, his aura gave out and he collapsed. 
Ranma Blue looked over his sibling with concern.
     "Are you all right?"
     Ranma Red shook his head. "No. I've fixed all the physical damage, 
but it was like repairing a car with no one to drive it. Her soul is... gone. 
I can't sense her ki at all. She's... dead."
     "Damn! This can't be happening!" Ranma Blue swore, pounding the 
ground with his fist. "Things were going so well in the beginning! We 
finally get cured of the curse. We're engaged to Ukyo and Shampoo. 
Ryoga's not fighting us any more! Mousse is gone! WHY DID THIS 
     {"I'm sorry that this had occurred."} Taron said.
     {"Why didn't you warn us?! Better yet, why didn't you save her?!"} 
Ranma Red asked angrily.
     {"Calm yourself you two! This is not the time for you to lose your 
control!"} Soren advised.
     {"What do you mean?"} Ranma Blue retorted. {"Akane's dead 
because of us and YOU WANT US TO BE CALM?!"}
     {"Yeah! I tried my healing powers, but they don't work on someone 
who's already dead!"} Ranma Red was clearly becoming as angry as his 
twin was.
     {"Yes, I am telling the both of you to be calm, because... there is a 
way to bring her back!"} Soren replied uneasily.
     Both Ranmas snapped up their heads in confusion and said at the 
same time, {"Really?"}
     {"That's right."} Taron said with a sigh. {"We had hoped to ease you 
into this phase of your training but... circumstances force us to throw 
you two headlong into this. Before we tell you anything more, we must 
be certain that you are willing to face the consequences of what you are 
about to do."}
     {"What kind of crud are you throwing at us?!"} Ranma Blue replied 
hotly. {"Of course we'll do it!"}
     {"Hang the consequences!"} Ranma Red added.
     Within an instant, the two twins and the body of Akane Tendo were 
enveloped in blinding flash of white light and vanished.
The Realm of Infinity...
     The Ranma brothers found themselves back in the Realm of Infinity. 
In front of them, the repaired body of Akane Tendo was laid out in front 
of them on a stone platform. On the other side of the body, there stood 
Taron and Soren. 
     "Before we tell you two how to save Akane, we have to say that we 
are very against doing this, so early in your training." Taron said in an 
irritated voice.
     "Stuff it Taron!" Ranma Blue replied as he glared at him and his twin. 
"You knew Akane was going to kill herself, didn't you?"
     "Yeah! You and your stupid destiny!" 
     "Calm down you two or it may become too late to save Akane!" 
When the Ranma twins settled down, Soren continued with his 
explanations. "First of all, we did not have the slightest idea that Akane 
would do something so drastic! We are charged with observing the 
movements of the Dark World and keeping an eye on you two, not 
every individual on the entire planet! Secondly, because of a few 
stipulations from Kami-sama, we are also forbidden to directly 
interfere with mortal affairs, unless it had something to do with the 
Contract! Akane made her choice to end her life willingly! Fortunately, 
it was not yet her time!"
     Both Ranmas looked at Soren in confusion.
     "That's right!" Taron affirmed. "When people die before their 
appointed time, their souls wander through the Kami plane! Usually, the 
gods and goddesses sort through these souls and send them to their 
final destinations (heaven or hell), or send them back to Earth as 
reincarnated beings. However, since the space-time continuum has 
become disrupted due to the Contract Renewal, many souls have 
become lost and are now without guidance. This has happened 
occasionally over the millennia, especially when a person meets a 
violent end. These people may wander for centuries before they are 
finally catalogued and sent on their proper paths. However, with the 
dimensional barrier so woefully unstable, the deities are taxed to their 
limits, trying to keep the flood of lost souls from becoming dispersed 
as they careen through the plane!"
     "That is where we think Akane's soul has gone. She had met a violent 
death before her time during the period of the Contract Renewal, 
thereby doubling her chances of getting lost! That is where the two of 
you come in!"
     "How do we save her?" Ranma Red asked.
     "I am about to project your souls to a point on the edge of the Kami 
plane. I believe the mortals call it astral projection. I was going to teach 
this skill to Ranma Red, but we don't have the time right now. " Soren 
     "That's fine for him, but what about me?" Ranma Blue asked. "I don't 
do magic!"
     "You won't have to, because your brother will be sharing his power 
with you." Taron supplied.
     "That's right!" Soren said. "Since the two of you share the same ki 
energies, you can both draw upon the same energy sources. Not at the 
same time mind you, but enough to combine your abilities without 
having magic and elemental power counteract each other. That was how 
you two were able to form the Thunderbolt Dragon to beat Happosai. 
As long as the two of you cooperate and not try to establish control 
over each other, then the magic and elemental power will work 
together, rather than compete against each other!"
     "Once you two have entered the Kami plane, you will find that you 
will have your full capabilities in your astral forms. In fact, it will feel 
as if you still had your real bodies! Mind you, you can still be hurt and 
feel pain. So watch yourselves! You must move quickly, for the longer 
you stay in the Kami plane, the more difficult it will be to leave it! 
Another thing to remember is that the Kami plane is considered as the 
nexus for all realities and dimensions. Be careful not to get too close 
to any vortexes or you'll be swept up and thrown somewhere else! 
Hopefully, Akane soul hasn't gotten close to one yet!"
     "Couldn't you just go in there and help us?" Ranma Blue asked.
     Taron shook his head. "Afraid not. Our immortal souls, coupled with 
the mystic forces and the power of nature, would cause a major 
disruption in the plane, sending all the confused souls further into 
disarray. No, I'm afraid that you two are on your own for this one, since 
your mortal souls will not cause as much chaos."
     "Are there any questions before we get started?" Soren asked as he 
began building up his ki energy.
     "I don't know if I'm up to this! I used up a lot of energy just restoring 
Akane's body!" Ranma Red stated.
     "Don't worry about it! Once you become separated from your physical 
body, you'll be able to tap into the spiritual energy of the Kami Plane. It's 
also conductive to elemental powers so Ranma Blue will be able to draw 
from it as well. Remember to keep in close contact and use your senses 
to follow Akane's trail. We'll also send a message to a few of the deities 
to lend you a hand! Once you have found Akane, head back to the point in 
which we sent you and we'll pick you up. Now we must begin!"
     The two Ranmas braced themselves as they watched Soren build up 
his ki to mind-boggling amounts. White ethereal mist began 
surrounding them as they noticed their auras begin to glow without 
them willing them. With a shout, Soren released a huge blast of energy 
at the twins that enveloped them in a blinding brilliance.
     At the same time that Soren had released his power, Taron had also 
built up his ki and opened up a circular portal in the space beside him. 
Just as the light of Soren's spell had faded away, Taron had completed 
his task. On the platform beside Akane's lifeless corpse, Ranma Red 
and Ranma Blue were laid out. Both bodies were warm to the touch and 
glowed with blue and red auras. They looked like they were asleep, but 
in reality, they had been put into a trance. The auras soon began to glow 
intensely and in another burst of light, this time red and blue, both 
spirits of the Ranma twins floated free from their vessels of flesh and 
blood and floated through the portal that Taron had created. The 
energies resembled ghostly figures of the twins, one red and one blue. 
In an instant, the spiritual twins were on their way.
The Kami Plane...
     Belldandy and her sister Skuld were more than overwhelmed by the 
assignment that they had been given. Since the Contract Renewal had 
greatly disrupted the dimensional barrier and caused many lost souls to 
become even more lost, their father had deemed it necessary to 
temporarily call back his daughters from their current assignments in 
order to deal with the extra workload.
     "Yaaah!" Skuld yelled as she used her croquet mallet to bash another 
six-legged BUG, which had gotten too close to one of the terminals of 
the Ultimate Force System. As soon as she hit it, the bunny-faced 
creature popped out of existence. "I can't believe that there are this 
many BUGS! Why can't we just reboot the system?"
     Belldandy looked over her younger sister with a disparaging eye. In a 
calm, yet soothing voice (Kasumi would be proud), she explained the 
reason. "Now Skuld! You know very well that we can't do that! 
Especially at this time! Rebooting the system would reset all the main 
files, especially the one concerning the Contract! We would end up with 
another ten thousand years of fighting the Dark World! Soren and Taron 
have gone through a lot to get to this point! We only have to wait a little 
longer! After the Dark World is defeated, the BUGS will disappear on 
their own."
     "But sis!" Skuld whined. "I've been whacking BUGS nonstop for a 
couple of weeks now! Heck! I've even tried my Super Skuld Bugerizer 
6000X (patent pending), on them. No matter how many it zaps, they 
still keep on coming! These stupid things are causing the Spirit 
Directional Program to glitch up! We're losing more souls to the void 
than we can round up, let alone catalogue them! Urd's been out there 
collecting lost souls by the dozens, but even she can't keep up!"
     "Skuld!" Belldandy chided. "As a goddess, you should be more 
patient! We are all feeling some discomfort, but it will be over soon. 
Taron and Soren tell me that these new champions are the greatest that 
they had ever trained."
     As if on cue, Ranma Red and Ranma Blue popped into Kami Plane      
beside them. They were more than a little disoriented at being separated 
from their bodies and then sent into a place that looked like a giant 
room filled to the brim with all sorts of computer equipment.
     "Oh no! Now the BUGS are getting bigger!" Skuld rushed toward the 
twins with her mallet.
     Both twins got an odd feeling of déjà vu as they saw someone dash 
toward them while brandishing a mallet. They quickly jumped to the 
sides , just as Skuld tried to smash both of their heads with her 
debugging device.
     Belldandy looked at the newcomers and her eyes widened as she 
recognized them. "Skuld! Stop! They're not BUGS! They're the Chosen 
     "Huh?" The younger goddess stopped in her tracks as she looked 
back at her sister in confusion.
     Ranma Red and Ranma Blue were already in their battle stances, 
ready to deal with whatever threat this girl in the red and white outfit 
represented. As soon as they heard the other girl tell Skuld to stop, they 
looked towards the goddess Belldandy.
     Their eyes widened as they looked over the brown-haired girl who 
had a remarkable resemblance to Kasumi, both in appearance and 
demeanor. She radiated a sense of serenity that reminded them so much 
of the eldest Tendo daughter. She had a soft, soothing voice that made 
them feel welcomed and they could sense only an aura of tranquility 
about her. It was if Kasumi had become divine beyond words.
     "Hello, Chosen Ones. I am the Goddess Belldandy. First Class, First 
Category, Unlimited. I must apologize for my sister's behavior. 
Welcome to the Kami Plane."
     Belldandy was radiating so much calming emotions that the twins 
couldn't help be feel relaxed. Ranma Blue decided to start the 
     "Nice to meet you. I'm..."
     "Ranma Blue Saotome." Belldandy finished. "And that is your brother 
Ranma Red. I know about you. Taron and Soren told us about you two."
     "They did?" Ranma Red asked.
     "Yes. So what brings the two of you to..." Belldandy paused for a 
moment as she tilted her head slightly, as if listening to some noise. 
She then blinked and turned her attention back to the twins. "I have just 
received a message from Soren. He tells me that you are here to pick 
up a friend of yours."
     Both Ranmas got excited when they heard of this. "Yes! We're 
looking for Akane Tendo!" Ranma Blue blurted out.
     "Akane Tendo?" Looking to her sister, who was still brandishing her 
mallet, Belldandy gave her a slightly disparaging eye and said, "Now 
Skuld! Where are your manners!"
     Skuld remembered herself and slung her hammer over her back. 
"Sorry sis!" She then gave a curt bow to the twins and introduced 
herself. "I'm Skuld, Second Class, Second Category, Limited. I can 
bring up the file on this Akane Tendo of yours." Quickly moving over to 
a small terminal, she punched in a few codes into what appeared to be a 
keypad and in an instant, a readout was displayed on a holographic 
monitor. The words were written in some foreign language that the 
twins did not know. As soon as she read the file, she had a look of 
puzzlement on her face. "That's odd. According to this file, Akane 
Tendo has just died, but her appointed time was not until a few years 
after she had become a great-grandmother!" 
     Both Ranmas had become guilty at hearing this.
     "I'm afraid that we're the reason for this mess." Ranma Red said in a 
bit of a depressed tone. He and his brother then gave an abridged 
explanation as to what had happened. After they had finished, 
Belldandy's expression was one of great concern.
     "Oh dear! This will never do! Of course you have to get her back! 
Her sudden demise is only adding to the problem here! If she stays in 
this plane for too long, she will be beyond any chance of recovery!"
     "Then you'll help us find her?" Ranma Red asked hopefully.
     "We will do all that we can to aid you." Belldandy replied. "However, 
we can't do anything right now. It is taking nearly all the power of my 
sister and I just to keep the Ultimate Force System from crashing! 
However, my older sister Urd is out in the void, gathering up lost souls. 
She may have already found your friend. Akane would certainly have 
been on her list!"
     "Urd is your sister?" Both Ranmas said in amazement. They couldn't 
quite comprehend that this gentle, Kasumi-like person was related to 
the vivacious and sexy goddess that they had met previously.
     Belldandy smiled as she responded, "Yes she is. I'm quite proud of 
how she had convinced your mother to accept your new engagements. 
But enough talk. You must hurry. I will send you to her."
     "Wait a minute, sis!" Skuld piped up as she took out a small device 
from her robe. It resembled a Game Boy hand-held video game and had 
a large screen on the front. She inserted the device into a slot at the 
terminal beside her. After a few moments, she extracted the device and 
handed it to Ranma Blue.
     "What's this?" Ranma Blue asked.
     "It's a mini-guide computer." Skuld answered. " I've programmed it 
with Akane's spiritual energy so you can follow it to her, if Urd hasn't 
found her yet. It will act as a map in case you get lost in any of the other 
dimensions or realities. It's been adapted to your ki energies and will 
answer your questions! Just talk to it if you want to know something!" 
Turning to her sister, Skuld nodded her head. "Okay, do it!"
     The mark on Belldandy's forehead glowed with a bright light as she 
waved her arm at the twins. The two spectral forms vanished in an instant.
Somewhere else in the Kami Plane...
     Urd was a bit irritated she floated in the multicolored void. Behind 
her, there were several dozen ghosts following her like a pack of 
wolves. (I use the term wolves since nearly all of them were MALE 
ghosts) She ignored the constant wolf-whistles, leers and... suggestive 
remarks as she fumed silently to herself. <Damn! I hate this 
assignment! I'm supposed to be a Goddess of Love and the Past, not 
some retrieval drone! I should be trying to get Belldandy and Keiichi to 
do the mattress dance, not play follow the leader to lost souls!>
     Just as she had completed her thoughts, a bright flash of light 
appeared before her. She a bit surprised as she recognized the two 
people who materialized in front of her.
     "Well now! If it isn't the Ranma twins! What brings you two studly 
boys to this neck of continuum?" Urd gave them a slow wink and moved 
sensually toward them. This display earned her several more hoots and 
whistles from the specters that she was leading.
     Both brothers reddened a bit. Urd had not changed. They quickly 
informed the goddess on their reason for being in the Kami Plane.
     "Akane Tendo?" Urd repeated as the brothers finished up their story. 
"Yes, she is on my list, but I haven't found her. In fact, I've barely found 
one tenth of the new lost souls that had come in today alone! The 
disruption of the interdimensional barrier is making things really hard 
for me. I won't even mention the backlog of those who had died 
centuries ago."
     "We have to find her and quick!" Ranma Red stated.
     "Yeah! Belldandy said that if she stays here for too long, we'll never 
get her back!" Ranma Blue added.
     Urd took on her rarely seen serious face and nodded. "That's right. If 
a departed soul remains in this place for more than eight hours, the soul 
will become acclimated into the Kami Plane! Then, it will be impossible 
to resurrect that soul into its own original body. In fact, it's dangerous 
for you two to be here! If you do not exit this place before that 8-hour 
time limit is up, your astral forms will become incapable of leaving it!"
     "Do you have any idea as to where Akane is?" Ranma Blue asked.
     Urd closed her eyes for a moment and concentrated. She then turned 
her attention back to the twins. "I sensed that Akane's soul had drifted 
off in that direction." She pointed toward a cluster of distant lights. "Do 
you have anything to help you track her?"
     Ranma Blue held up the mini-guide. "Your sister gave us this."
     Urd nodded. "Good. Make full use of it! I'd come with you, but as 
you can see, I've got my hands full! The rest of my fellow deities are 
also roaming around collecting lost spirits!"
     "So we're on our own, huh?" Ranma Red said in a depressed tone.
     "I'd help you if I could, but I can't abandon these spirits any more 
than you could forget about Akane! Many of these souls are in the same 
situation as she is and have the chance of being restored as well! I can 
only give you some advice. Keep your guard up! There are many beings 
other than lost souls in this place. Some of them are very unpleasant! 
And whatever you do, avoid the vortex that leads to the Realm of 
Oblivion! That is the nexus point in which the Dark World has great 
influence over. Judging by your current power levels, you're not ready 
yet to face the minions of Sharoka!"
     With these words, Urd bid them good luck and floated off with her 
charges following close behind. As they watched the group fade off 
into the distance, the twins began debating as to what to do next.
     "Well bro, this is it!" Ranma Blue commented.
     "It's not the first time that we've been left on our own!" Ranma Red 
remarked. Looking off at the direction that Urd had indicated, the red-
shirted martial artist frowned at the distant lights. "Try asking that 
doohickey if there's any way we can get there quick! I can't use my 
teleportation spell since it's beyond my usual range, and I've never been 
here before!"
     Ranma Blue nodded as he held up the device and said, "Uh, we need 
to get to that place over there fast! Is there any way we can do that?"
     "Affirmative." The small computer answered in a metallic voice. 
     Both twins were enveloped in another burst of light and were 
instantly transported to area of swirling lights. When they rematerialized, 
they found themselves amid a cascade of flowing colors and mists.
     "Where are we?" Ranma Blue asked.
     He had meant the question for his brother but the mini-guide 
decided to answer for him, "Kami Plane, area 9453, quadrant 10."
     Ranma Red and his brother looked around and used their enhanced 
senses to try and detect the presence of Akane. 
     "Hey! She was here! Not too long ago!" Ranma Red remarked.
     "Yeah, but all this residual spiritual energy is making it hard to lock 
onto her trail!" Ranma Blue said as he tried to concentrate. Failing in 
this, he consulted the computer again. "Which way now?"
     "This way." The device replied as they were once again transported to 
another sector.
     When they reappeared, the twins found themselves among a crowd 
of ghosts, which were gathered in a white room. Many were seated on 
benches, while others were standing. Some were talking to others, 
while some were just patiently waiting for something to happen. 
     As the twins looked at the group, they noticed that all were dressed 
differently and were from different parts of the world. Some were 
outlandishly dressed in clothes from different time periods.
     "Where are we now?" Ranma Red asked.
     "Waiting area 4754." The computer replied.
     One of the spirits noticed the twins and floated toward them. He was 
dressed in a military uniform, which was from the United States Calvary 
of the nineteenth-century. He had a saber hanging from a sword belt and 
had several medals on his tunic. He had blond hair with a long mustache 
and sideburns. When he spoke to the twins, he used a southern dialect.
     ["Well howdy boys! You're new around here, aren't you?"]
     Ranma Red and his brother looked at the stranger with a confused 
look. Realizing that he was speaking English, Ranma Red began 
focusing his ki and invoked his spell of comprehension. He modified 
the spell so that his brother could also understand. The specter paid it 
no mind as he was already used to seeing strange things happening. 
     "Excuse me. What did you say again?" Ranma Red asked.
     "I said that you're new around here, right? Are you waiting to be 
judged too?"
     "Judged? What do you mean?" Ranma Blue said. 
     "Well this here is the place where some folks wait to be tried by the 
All Mighty Lord himself! Oh! Where are my manners? I'm George 
Armstrong Custer! I used to be a general of the United States Calvary 
back the Old West."
     "United States? You're an American?" Ranma Red said.
     "Born, raised and died!" Custer said proudly.
     "Why are you here? What are you being judged for?" Ranma Blue 
     Custer sighed as he responded, "Well, back in the Old West, we 
didn't take too kindly to them Injuns when they went on a rampage! 
Especially them Sioux Injuns! I mean, we owned those lands after those 
savages had signed the treaty, then went back on their words! I was only 
following orders when I was told to go out and send 'em back to the 
reservations. I guess the Lord saw that it wasn't right to force people 
off their own lands. After being here for the last hundred years or so, I 
kinda agree with that notion."
     "What happened to you?" Ranma Red queried.
     "I underestimated my opponents. I thought I was dealing with a bunch 
of savages. Turned out that Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse weren't all that 
stupid. His army of five thousand wiped out me and my division of two 
hundred men. I should have sent out scouts at the Little Big Horn!"
     "That's why you're here?" 
     "Uh huh. It was my pride and my racism that cost me and my men our 
lives! I figure that's why I've been here for so long. I guess the Lord 
wanted me to ponder a mite about how I should treat other people. Just 
because they're different from me doesn't mean that they deserve any 
less respect."
     The Ranma brothers became saddened by Custer's words, then 
remembered why they were in the Kami Plane.
     "By the way," Ranma Blue asked. "did you see a young girl come by 
     "Short black hair, about sixteen or so? Name's Akane?" Custer asked. 
Both Ranmas nodded. "Yeah. I met up with her a while ago. She looked 
like she was from China or somewhere about there, but we didn't have 
trouble talking. One good thing about being dead, we all understand 
each other. Can't figure why you didn't understand me at first."
     <That's because technically, we're not dead yet!> Ranma Red thought.
     "Anyway," Custer continued. " she was a really sad little girl when 
she wandered by. We talked a mite, and after I told her how I should 
have respected those Injuns better, she started moaning about how she 
should have treated some guy called Ranma better."
     Both brothers winced at that revelation. 
     "Is she here?" Asked the blue-shirted Ranma.
     "Nope. She didn't seem to care about anything. She told me that there 
was no need for her to be judged. She decided not to hang around and 
left. Went out that there door." Custer pointed to a blue door on the 
other side of the room. "If I were her, I would have stayed put. I was lost 
in that void for fifty years before one of God's angels came and found 
     Both brothers gave their thanks to the ghost of Custer and headed 
out the door. They found themselves floating in the void again. Looking 
around, they could see several wraiths drifting about aimlessly with 
confused looks. Not sensing Akane anywhere in the near vicinity, they 
consulted their mini-guide and were instantly transported elsewhere.
     For the next several hours, the twins roamed the Kami Plane. With 
all the disruptions that the Contract Renewal was causing, Akane's 
spiritual trail had become weak and was hard to track, even with the 
mini-guide and their senses on full. As they followed Akane's trail, they 
had come across several prominent figures in history, all of which had 
met with a violent and tragic end. Davy Crockett, Napoleon, Adolph 
Hitler, Admiral Yamamoto, Mussolini, Abraham Lincoln, the crew from 
the Space Shuttle Challenger, Princess Diana and others to name a few.
     "Wow!" Ranma Red remarked. "Urd wasn't kidding when she said 
there was a huge backlog!"
     "Yeah, but we're still no closer to finding Akane!"
     After another hour, the trail led to a swirling mass of dark clouds 
that resembled a black hole. As they hovered near the edge, the mini-
guide started giving off a sharp beeping noise.
     "Warning! This is the dimensional vortex that leads to the Realm of 
Oblivion! Do not enter! Repeat! Do not enter!"
     "This is where the trail leads." Ranma Blue said to his sibling.
     "I know that Urd told us not to go in there, but I can sense Akane's 
presence in there!"
     "Me too. Do we go in?"
     Before Ranma Red could answer, they both felt a chill pass over 
them. Then suddenly, they heard the tortured scream of a girl in agony. 
A scream they recognized.
     "No doubt about it! She's in there!" Ranma Red shouted.
     "It's not like we have a choice! WE HAVE TO GET HER OUT!"
     The two of them paused as they gathered in their energies. Then they 
leapt into the vortex.
The Realm of Oblivion...
     Arcodos and Zuruka laughed maliciously at the soul contained in the 
large crystal sphere hovering before them. Every now and then they 
would send a blast of searing energy at the orb, causing the spirit inside 
to writhe in pain as a small piece of it was torn away.
     "It's been a good two thousand years since we were able to enjoy 
ourselves like this!" Arcodos said as he sent another bolt into the 
crystal. "Hearing the screams of pain and despair in an innocent soul 
always cheers me up!"
     "Yes." Zuruka agreed as he sent yet more energy into the crystal. "It's 
a good thing that this soul wandered too close to the vortex! The 
thousand years between Contract Renewals can get very boring! I enjoy a 
little diversion now and then. How long do you think this one will last?"
     "Hmm... judging by how much despair and pain it was feeling when 
we caught it, I'd say a few more minutes. We might as well enjoy them 
before this soul is completely used up!"
     "A pity these mortal souls are not made of sterner stuff! When we 
made this one relive her most painful memories, her cries of anguish 
were so delightful, I wanted them to last for eternity! They were sweet 
music to my ears!"
     "Yes. Ironic that this one had strong connections to the Chosen 
Twins. We could have used her as a pawn. However, since she is dead, 
she is nothing more than a temporary bit of amusement. Oh well." 
Arcodos sent another blast at Akane's soul. Her form wavered and 
began to lose its form as she let out another scream. She then collapsed 
to her knees inside the crystal.
     "Well Arcodos, this one is about finished. She should be grateful to 
us! Once her sprit energy loses its cohesion, she will be absorbed into 
the great vastness of the Realm of Oblivion!'
     "She's a lucky girl!" Arcodos replied as they both raised their arms 
for one final blast.
     Akane looked up at her tormentors. She had thought that after dying, 
she would feel no pain. She was wrong. The demons that had caught her 
had made her feel agony far beyond a physical level. They had made 
every one of her most painful memories come back in her mind like a 
tidal wave. Every regret, nightmare and mistake that she had experienced 
in life had been brought back with crystal clarity. Even worse was that 
each memory had a profound effect on her very being. She could feel her 
very soul slowly being torn apart with each blast. The very fabric of her 
being was slowly being unraveled.
     She had seen her mother die a second time. The only difference was 
that the demons had made her feel the despair and pain that Kimiko had 
felt as the disease ravaged her body and sapped her will to live. She had 
experienced the agony of her father as he tried to deal with the loss of 
his wife and the mother of his children. She relived the bitterness and 
loneliness of the following years as she threw herself into her martial 
arts to deal with the absence of her mother. Worst of all, she 
remembered every pain, every sorrow and every heartache that she had 
for the one person whom she had fallen in love with. Ranma Saotome.
     These final remembrances were the most unbearable of all. It was 
worse than rape. It was worse than being traumatized. The heavy 
feelings were so intense that when she saw the demons raise their arms 
to deliver the final blast, she welcomed it, knowing that when she lost 
her very being, she would finally have peace.
     It was then that she heard a familiar voice. In stereo.
     Zuruka and Arcodos were totally caught off guard by the twin chi 
attacks. They were struck in the backs and were driven to their knees. 
Snarling with rage, the twin servants of Sharoka got to their feet and 
turned to face whomever was foolish enough to attack them.
     Their faces turned from rage to sadistic delight as they recognized 
their assailants.
     "Well now. This is a pleasant surprise!" Zuruka said.
     "Yes. The dimensional barrier is still preventing us from entering the 
Earth Realm. We were wondering how to get at you two! Looks like 
you saved us the trouble by coming here!" Arcodos smiled with a 
sadistic grin as the two demons began powering up their energies.
     "I love it!" Zuruka crowed. "Not only do we now have THREE 
SOULS to amuse ourselves with, but we can finally ensure victory over 
the Earth after ten long millennia!"
     "In your dreams!" Ranma Red declared as he took a stance.
     "You're not getting our souls, and you can't have Akane's either, you 
monsters!" Ranma Blue added.
     "Monsters?" Zuruka said in a sarcastic tone. "Boy, you don't know the 
meaning of the word. However, Arcodos and I are going to enjoy 
teaching you as we tear your souls apart!"
     "You want this soul? Come and take it." Arcodos stood at the ready 
with Zuruka.
     The Ranma twins faced off with the demons as they prepared to 
make their first move.
To be continued...
Author's Notes
     This chapter represents the first encounter between the twins and the 
Dark World. Akane Tendo is once again put into the role of the damsel 
in distress, only this time, it's REALLY SERIOUS! Furthermore, it is a 
situation in which she herself had gotten herself into. If you thought 
that the battle with Happosai was trouble for the twins, think again.