Dual Destinies
The characters of Ranma 1/2 belong to the great genius of Rumiko 
Takahashi. Belldandy, Urd and Skuld are from Oh My Goddess and its 
respective creator(s). Please, I'm poor! Don't sue me!
<>: Thoughts
{" "} Telepathic communication
                                  Chapter 16
     The Ranma twins stood at the ready as they assessed their demonic 
opponents. Reaching out with their senses, they became alarmed at 
what they found.
     {"Uh oh! These guys are lot more powerful than Happosai!"} Ranma 
Red remarked.
     {"Damn! This is going to be a tough one!"} Ranma Blue said.
     {"Well, we better fight fast! Akane's eight-hour time limit is almost 
up and ours is just about the same!"}
     {"Let's do it!"}
     Concentrating their ki energies, the Ranma brothers exploded into 
     The barrage of chi energies hurtled toward the demons. Zuruka and 
Arcodos smiled as they each simply made a waving gesture with a 
clawed hand. The chi energies dispersed before they came within five 
feet of them.
     "Not this time." Zuruka said as he and his counterpart began to 
advance toward the twins.
     "We have been observing you two since the day you were separated. 
We know ALL of your paltry skills and techniques!" Arcodos added.
     The two Ranmas decided to change tactics as each leapt toward one 
of the demons.
     Ranma Red tried a roundhouse kick to the demon with crimson 
armor. The kick landed solidly on the temple. However, Arcodos' head 
didn't move a millimeter as the demon reacted with lightning speed and 
grabbed the pigtailed martial artist by the ankle. Even though Ranma 
Red and his brother were in their astral forms, in the Realm of 
Oblivion, their soul energies had taken on solid characteristics. They 
may as well have been fighting in their real bodies.
     Ranma Red was hauled up by one leg as Arcodos raised him until 
their eyes met. He then smirked at his foe and said, "Was that supposed 
to hurt?" He then swung his victim around in a wide arc and slammed 
him against a stone formation. Ranma Red winced in pain as he realized 
that he could also feel the damage done to his form in this place.
     Ranma Blue had also made that discovery as he tried to use his 
accelerated Chestnut Fist on Zuruka.
     Just before his first punch connected, Zuruka's body glowed with a 
blue aura. Immediately, Ranma Blue felt his hands flare up with an 
intense, stinging pain. He was forced to stop in the middle of his 
technique as he backed away and looked down at his hands. He was 
alarmed to see them with black splotches. In a few moments, the marks 
faded away, but he was still left with sore hands.
     "Cute trick." Zuruka commented. "Let me try!" With those words, he 
then began slashing at his opponent with the same lightning speed. 
Ranma Blue barely managed to get his body in motion, trying 
desperately to avoid the demon's razor sharp claws. Unfortunately, he 
was unable to avoid the last of the attacks and he felt more burning pain 
as Zuruka's talons ripped into his side.
     Backing away, he looked down at his side and was shocked to see a 
large tear in his left flank. Of course, there was no blood, but the gash 
had left him with a nauseated feeling. The injury was jagged and looked 
like the edge of a frayed piece of fabric. Concentrating his inner being, 
Ranma Blue willed the tear to reform. After a moment, his energy form 
was whole again and he continued to fight.
     "SPIRIT FIST!" 
     The huge fist of mystic energy flew toward Arcodos' midsection, but 
to Ranma Red's surprise, the Dark World demon made no attempt to 
stop it. The blast impacted heavily against him, but after that energy had 
depleted itself, he simply shrugged and said, "Oh come on now. You 
have to do better than that! I would have thought that Soren taught you 
more than simple parlor tricks!"
     The servant of Sharoka raised his arm and sent an intense blast of 
energy at his opponent. Ranma Red tried his best to evade it, but he was 
not completely successful. For some reason, his reflexes had become 
slower and his movements were becoming sluggish. He screamed in 
pain as part of the blast nailed him in the right shoulder. He managed a 
forward roll to avoid further injury as he was thrown to the ground. He 
then staggered to his feet and faced off against his antagonist. That was 
then that Arcodos slammed a huge fist into Ranma Red's ribcage.
     Akane could not believe what she was seeing. The Ranma twins were 
losing! She had seen them use the same techniques against Kuno and 
Mousse, but they proved to be ineffective against her demon 
tormentors. Furthermore, as they continued to battle, they became 
slower and sustained more hits as the monsters mercilessly beat them 
down. Was this the end?
     "Ranma! Get out of here! Both of you! Forget about me!"
     Ranma Blue was faring no better as he was smashed though a stone 
pillar. Zuruka had brushed off his Flaming Chi Wave as if he were 
swatting a fly. He tried another tactic.
     A long and sharp spear of blue-white energy formed in his hand. He 
then launched it at his foe. The weapon struck the demon dead center in 
the chest and encased him in a block of ice. For a moment, Ranma Blue 
thought he had him, but the ice then melted away in a second as Zuruka 
simply increased his body temperature.
     "Very amusing. Do you have any more?"
     Ranma Red simply couldn't believe it. The demon that was named 
Arcodos had had just stood motionless and took the full force of TEN 
of his Soul Arrows, without feeling the slightest bit of discomfort. 
Arcodos grinned at his opponent's shocked expression and said, "Those 
arrows can cause psychological trauma to a mortal, but they mean 
nothing to a demon that specializes in anguish and pain!"
     Ranma Blue was thrown backward as his own Gust Attack was 
reversed. After painfully picking himself off the ground, he began to 
notice several things that were happening to him. His aura did feel right. 
He had also noticed that his speed and timing were off. The injuries that 
he had sustained while battling Zuruka were devastating, but he noticed 
that his astral form was feeling somehow… different. He looked at 
Akane in her crystal prison and noticed that her soul energy seemed a 
slightly different hue. It was almost as if she was matching the dismal 
colors of the Realm of Oblivion. He looked down at his own form and 
saw that it too was becoming paler.
     <Oh no! Our time's almost up! We've got to get out of here before 
we become permanently part of the Kami Plane! Doesn't matter if we 
beat these guys! They're just trying to delay us! That's why they're not 
using much power! They don't have to!>
     {"Red! We have to get going! Our time's almost up!"}
     Ranma Red barely dodged another one of Arcodos' energy bolts as 
he responded, {"I'm all for it, but these guys aren't going to just let us 
waltz out of here! And we can't leave Akane!"} He then dodged another 
withering blast which ricocheted off a stone pillar and blasted off a 
small piece of Akane's crystal cell. Ranma Red noticed it and began to 
think. <Hey! They're using some different kind of energy against us 
than what we saw they used on Akane! Maybe…they can help us free 
     Panic began to take hold of the twins as their demon foes increased 
in the intensity of their attacks. Soon, the both of them were backed up 
against the crystal that contained Akane's soul. Both Dark Worlders 
smiled as they raised their arms and powered up for a massive blast.
     Looking behind him, Ranma Red saw Akane's fearful expression. It 
was then that he came upon a desperate plan. He began powering up his 
ki, as the demons were about to unleash their attacks. Ranma Blue 
looked at his brother's eyes, then nodded, as he understood what his 
sibling was thinking of.
     Just as Zuruka and Arcodos released a massive discharge, Ranma 
Red grabbed his brother shoulder and teleported the both of them to a 
spot behind Akane's crystal prison. The energy slammed into the walls 
of the structure and caused them to shatter into fragments. Akane found 
herself falling to the floor, but was caught in Ranma Blue's arms as he 
and his brother rematerialized.
     Before the demons could react to this unexpected development, 
Ranma Blue shouted out to his twin.
     Before the startled eyes of the demons, the Ranma twins and Akane 
disappeared from view. Both Dark Worlders looked around in 
confusion as they tried to detect their presence. It was then that they 
realized that they had been tricked. Howling with rage, both demons 
vented their frustrations and began wrecking anything and everything in 
their immediate vicinity.
The Ultimate Force System…
     The twins and their passenger reappeared on one of the terminals 
where Skuld had been working on, giving her quite a fright. Belldandy 
turned her head when she heard her sister yelp. As soon as she saw who 
was perched on the console, she immediately saw that their forms were 
about to become one with the Kami Plane. She then sent a blast of 
energy at the three, which enveloped them and caused them to vanish 
once more.
The Realm of Infinity…
     Soren and Taron were fretting over their pupils when three energy 
forms appeared beside their respective bodies. Seeing how battered 
each one was, Soren wasted no time in merging them to their flesh and 
blood vessels. In bright flash of mystic energy, all three were restored 
to their physical forms.
     Ranma Blue's body suddenly started bleeding profusely as a huge 
gash appeared on his left flank. Several large bruises and minor 
scratches came into view as well as he got up moaning in pain. His 
hands became numb as they also became riddled with cuts and bruises.
     Ranma Red felt intense pain as his right shoulder as it became 
covered with third degree burns. He could feel at least two broken ribs 
and his left ankle felt like it had torn several ligaments and tendons.
     Akane was the worst off. She had suffered tremendous psychological 
trauma when she her soul had been tortured by the Dark World demons. 
Now that she had been returned to her living body, all she had experienced 
in the Kami Plane came into her mind like a raging tsunami. She started 
screaming in agony as she held her head and her body went through a 
series of convulsions. Soren guessed what the demons had done to her and 
stepped forward. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he began radiating his ki 
into her and whispered to her in a gentle tone.
     Instantly, Akane felt all the pain and feelings of suffering fade away 
and she found herself drifting into a dreamless, yet peaceful slumber. 
As soon as her body became inert and her breathing became steady, 
Soren turned around to tend to the injuries of the Ranma twins.
Some time later…
     Ranma Red and Ranma Blue sat on their stone tables as they looked 
at their mentors. Taron and Soren were giving them a look that was 
similar to a parent that was about to scold a disobedient child.
     "You took a very big risk. If you had stayed in the Kami Plane for 
one nanosecond longer, the three of you would have been lost, and 
Earth would have been doomed!" Taron said in a stern voice.
     "We couldn't leave Akane to those monsters!" Ranma Red retorted.
     "Is one life worth the billions of lives of a whole world?" Soren said.
     "You didn't stop us! In fact, you helped us!" Ranma Blue pointed out.
     Both immortals sobered at that aspect. They slowly nodded as Taron 
said, "Yes. I'm afraid that you were too determined to save your friend. 
In any case, it just as well that you went to save her. We know what it's 
like to lose someone you care about, knowing that you had the ability to 
prevent it. We're not heartless, and in a way, this experience has helped 
you in your training."
     "What do you mean? I mean, those demons wiped the floor with us!"
     Ranma Red nodded in agreement.
     "They showed you that no matter how powerful you become, victory 
is not always assured. Furthermore, you two learned to think and use 
your heads. The old Ranma Saotome would have been too proud to run 
from a fight. He would have stayed until he was destroyed or was 
trapped in the Kami Plane. You two however, learned that discretion 
was the better part of valor. You thought of Akane's safety first, rather 
than your own survival. You neither won nor lost the battle, but you 
achieved your goal. Akane is now once again among the living."
     "Is she going to be okay?" Ranma Red asked.
     "Physically, she's in good health." Taron guardedly commented. 
"Mentally however, she will suffer severe psychological distress. Your 
wounds and her experiences had carried over into your real bodies. 
Repairing the physical damage was easy enough, but I'm afraid we can't 
do anything about the terrors and bad memories that she will experience 
in the future. That is something that she must come to terms with on her 
own. For now, we've put her into a dreamless sleep, so that her dream 
centers won't start churning out nightmares about her stay in the Realm 
of Oblivion."
     "So now what?" Ranma Blue asked.
     "We're going to give you a day to fully heal and finish with any loose 
ends that you still might have. Then… the real training will begin." 
Soren said in a firm tone.
To be continued…
Author's Notes
     I guess this chapter came out a little shorter than I expected, but I 
couldn't think of any other way to leave off and start the next chapter. A 
lot of my readers still do not think that I have resolved the honor issue 
between the Tendos and the Saotomes. Also, you may recall that the 
twins still need to have that long talk with Akane (it's kind of hard to do 
that when she's dead, right?) The next chapter will be my attempt to 
finalize these issues as well as get into more depth with some of the 
other characters. Rumiko Takashi is a great storyteller, but I feel that 
she did not really expand on some members of the supporting cast.
     If some of you had been expecting Akane to have gone to that big 
dojo in the sky, I'm sorry but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Akane 
has not been my favorite character, but in my story, she now must face 
things that have permanently disrupted her world. Who knows? Maybe 
her experience with the grim reapers, (Arcodos and Zuruka) may have 
made Akane truly appreciate the gift of life, despite its pitfalls and 
shortcomings. Many of the characters are now undergoing changes in 
their personalities as they are finally being forced to face up to their 
fears and the consequences of their past actions.