Dual Destinies
The Dual Destinies story is mine. The Ranma 1/2 characters are 
Takahashi's. 'Nuff said.
<>: Thoughts
{""}: Telepathic communication
                                  Chapter 19
                 And You Thought Things Couldn't Get Any Worse!
At the foot of Mount Terror
     Ranma Blue let off a stream of baseball-sized chi blasts at his 
brother like a machine gun.
     Ranma Red barely managed to dodge the barrage as he leapt high and 
did a flip. Landing on his feet like a gymnast that was dismounting the 
horizontal bars, he charged at his brother and initiated his counterattack.
     Instantly, twelve shadow images of himself sprang forth from his 
body and encircled the blue-shirted Ranma. Before Ranma Blue realized 
what was happening, each image of his brother lashed out with a kick and 
connected solidly on several points on his body. Ranma Blue went down.
     On the sidelines, Soren, Taron and Cologne watched as the twin 
martial artists sparred.
     "Impressive! Son-in-law is using a technique that puts the Amazon 
Splitting Cat Hairs to shame!" 
     "Actually, it's an improved, magical version of it." Soren supplied. "I 
was inspired to create it after training your ancestors."
     Ranma Blue was not to be outdone as he couched down and slammed 
his palm to the ground.
     A hemisphere of red energy exploded from the spot and expanded 
outward. The images of Ranma Red were blasted apart into wisps of 
magical energy. Ranma Red had received a substantial portion of the 
explosion and was thrown backward. He rolled to minimize injury and 
stood to face his sibling, his clothes slightly singed and tattered.
     Ranma Blue's aura let of a brilliant flash of light as he charged at his 
twin with fists glowing. Ranma Red also charged in with battle aura 
ready. The two started an exchange of punches and kicks that were 
almost invisible to the naked eye. They darted about, moving with 
speeds that made the cheetah seem like a sloth. Even more surprising, 
was the fact that they were hitting with far greater force than usual. 
     Ranma Blue ducked a fist to the face, while Ranma Red's punch 
smashed a gigantic boulder behind his brother. The pigtailed martial 
artist with the red shirt looked in surprise at his fist, then at the pile of 
debris. <Huh? Since when could I hit that hard? I wasn't even using my 
ki techniques!>
     This slight pause was all Ranma Blue needed to send an uppercut to 
his sibling's chin. Ranma Red went skyward as he shot up from the 
ground like an ICBM. Ranma Blue looked in shock at his airborne twin, 
then looked down in at his own fist. Looking back up, he saw his brother 
slow in his ascent and stop in midair. As he hovered at a height of fifty 
feet from the ground, he placed a hand on his chin and rubbed his palm 
against it. His expression was one of confusion, instead of pain.
     <I… hardly felt that! What's happening? When Akane hit us that hard, 
we'd usually be sore for days!>
     Down on the ground, Ranma Blue was also having similar thoughts. 
<What's going on? I wasn't even trying and I nearly sent Red into orbit! 
Looks like he's not hurt from it either!>
     At this point, both Ranmas decided to experiment. Ranma Red 
floated back down to the ground, then pivoted with his left leg to send a 
devastating spin kick to another boulder. The rock was pulverized into 
powder. <Whoa! I smashed that rock better than Ryoga could do with 
his Backusai Tenketsu!> After glancing down at his handiwork, he then 
looked at his twin, who gave him a slight nod and stood in a neutral 
stance. He deliberately left himself open as he watched Ranma Red go 
into a flying jump kick.
     The kick connected solidly on Ranma Blue's chest with enough 
force to knock a train off its tracks. However, Ranma Blue didn't budge 
an inch. When Ranma Red landed, he stared at him with wide eyes and 
slightly open jaw.
     "That… tickled." Ranma Blue used a hand to brush off the footprint 
on his shirt. He then turned and punted a small rock at a nearby tree. He 
had kicked the stone almost casually, but it became a deadly projectile, 
which smashed through thick tree trunk, and kept on going. It made 
lasting impressions on seven other trees as it flew through the air like 
rocket. It finally came to an abrupt stop at the foot of the mountain. It 
shattered into microscopic pieces and left a fair-sized depression in the 
stone wall.
     Both boys were dumfounded at what was happening. They decided to 
try another test. Stepping back and taking the proper stance, Ranma Red 
said to his brother, "Start counting!"
     Ranma Blue nodded as he watched his brother invoke the 
Accelerated Chestnut Fist.
     Just as he started, he was already done. As he finished the maneuver, 
he decided to repeat it three times, just to make certain.
     Cologne was confused as she had seen only a slight waver in his 
arms. "He didn't do the technique!"
     Taron smiled down at the aged matriarch and said smugly, "Oh yes he 
did! It's just that your senses were not able to pick up his movements."
     "Our students have now found out something new about themselves." 
Soren added.
     "Should we tell them?"
     "Now is as good a time as any."
     Ranma Blue was in sheer disbelief as he said, "One thousand twenty-
eight punches the first time! Added to the other three times you did it. 
A total of four thousand, one hundred and twelve! In less than a second!"
     "No way!" Ranma Red declared. "Even if I did go that fast, there's no 
way you could have seen them all!"
     "I did see them all." Ranma Blue. "I could actually see each punch!"
     "Congratulations, you two!" Soren said as he, Taron and Cologne 
walked up to them.
     "Taron! What's happening to us? I thought we needed to focus our ki 
in order to become stronger and faster!" Ranma Red asked. "We weren't 
even concentrating and we never had THAT much power before!"
     "You did at first need to focus your ki to enhance your abilities." 
Taron replied. "However, your bodies have now become attuned to that 
level of power. At present, they consider your current strength and 
speed as normal. The same thing goes for your senses. As you increase 
your control over your ki and special abilities, your physical forms will 
continue to upgrade themselves in order to match your skill levels."
     "Fortunately, you also have unconscious control over your abilities. 
Which is just as well, since it wouldn't do for you smash anything or 
anyone you touch." Soren added.
     "Most impressive son-in-law." Cologne stated. "You and your 
brother have achieved a level of mastery over the arts that many in my 
tribe could only dream of. I would now consider you both… my betters."
     Both Ranmas still could not believe what was happening to them. As 
a final test, they both took neutral stances and began focusing their
auras. The ki energies were enormous as they made the forest light up 
as if it were on fire. The twins checked their power levels and 
discovered  that they were infused with more energy than ever before. 
It was exhilarating!
     After a minute, the Ranma Brothers powered down and faced their 
     "Well now, boys." Taron said with a smile. "It has been a long and 
hard five days! We're proud of what you've been able to achieve! 
Considering what has happened to you over the past week, I'd say that 
the two of you are almost ready to face the first of the Contract 
     Ranma Red and his brother nodded as they remembered all the trials 
they had undergone in the past. The training had become ever more 
difficult as the immortals had put them through their paces and taxed 
them to their limits. The twins had been subjected to injuries that would 
have killed even the grandmasters of the martial arts. Their mother 
constantly worried over them as they usually came home with bruises, 
cuts, concussions and perhaps the occasional broken bone or two. 
Fortunately, Soren had also taught Ranma Red extensive healing spells, 
and the two were usually up and about in few hours. 
     The one time that they had to return to the Kami Plane was one of 
the most grueling tests they ever had to undergo. Remembering their 
previous experience in that place had made them more cautious and 
they were careful not to end up in the Realm of Oblivion again. It took 
them a day and a half to navigate the Kami Plane and learn its secrets. 
Luckily, they remembered to leave that place every eight hours to keep 
from becoming a part of that side of existence.
     The most difficult thing of all to face, was the fact that the three 
former Tendo daughters were now residing with their mother. Kasumi 
had protested in the beginning, saying that she did not want to impose 
on the mother of the twins. Nodoka however, would not take no for an 
answer when she had offered to let Soun's disowned children stay at her 
house, until the Tendo patriarch had come to his senses. After some 
gentle prodding and persuasion, the three girls were now residing at the 
house, while the twins had decided to move into the spare room at the 
Ucchan's, since Nodoka's home was too small to accommodate them 
all. The immortals had decided to transport the form of Happosai to the 
Realm of Infinity to continue his healing process and not to bother the 
     The girl that the twins had worried most about was, of course Akane. 
As Cologne had predicted, she had been having recurring flashbacks of 
her stay in the Realm of Oblivion and seemed to be getting worse. 
Three times, Shampoo had been forced to use the Xi Fang Xiang Gao 
Shiatsu technique to calm her down. After her third attempt to erase 
Akane's most painful memories, Shampoo had insisted that she reside 
at the house and watch her for any future episodes. Although Cologne 
had been reluctant at first, knowing that repeated exposure to the 
Formula 110 shampoo was not going to work forever, the looks of 
concern from her great-granddaughter and the other sisters convinced 
her to let Shampoo try to ease Akane's suffering. Since the ancient 
Amazon was busy with finalizing the sale of the Nekohanten, Shampoo 
had a lot of free time. She was more than determined to convince 
Akane that she really wanted to let bygones be bygones and perhaps 
become friends.
     Akane was still very suspicious of the purple-haired girl's motives, 
but she couldn't deny that her treatments had lessened the agony, if only 
for a little while. Grudgingly, she had decided to tolerate her and hold 
back any insults, lest she stop in her ministrations. Surprisingly, 
Shampoo did not mind the looks that Akane gave her. She did everything 
she could think of to make life easier for her former rival. This was 
certainly a slight shock to the youngest sister as she remembered all the 
times that the Amazon did to make her life a living hell.
     Despite all these tensions, one had to admit that for the last five 
days, the former members of the Tendo clan had experienced 
something they never had when the Saotomes first moved into their 
home. It was an absence of chaos. There were no attacks made against 
Ranma, Akane or both. No one was breaking through the walls or 
smashing down the door. Since Akane and the two Ranmas were no 
longer arguing, one could expect that the roof stayed intact. With 
Happosai in the Realm of Infinity, there were no reports of missing 
underwear or stolen food. There were no long-lost fiancées looking to 
marry the once-heir to the Saotome name. 
     Nodoka had seen to it that her sons would not carry the name of her 
soon-to-be-divorced husband any longer than they had to. Two days ago, 
she had finalized the changing of her sons' name from Saotome to 
Masaki. In fact, her own divorce papers were just about to be filed away 
themselves. The nice thing about belonging to a wealthy family was that 
one could afford high-priced lawyers to bypass the slow judicial process 
and get all the paperwork done. She didn't even need to have Genma's 
signature as she already produced evidence of Genma's mistreatment of 
her sons over the course of ten years and of the document, which he 
signed to commit seppeku. She had used several contacts to speak with 
the families who had dealt with her husband in the past. These people 
included the families, which had arranged Ranma to be married with their 
daughters. The most irritated family of all was of course, the Kuonji 
clan. Haruka Kuonji was angered to learn that she was the wife of Genma 
Saotome, but after hearing that his Ukyo will marry Ranma, at least one 
of them, he calmed down considerably. After giving their testimonies, 
Nodoka had generously given each family large sums of money as 
recompense for Genma's misdeeds. When all was said and done, the 
courts were more than convinced that Genma had acted in a dishonorable 
fashion that defied belief, and granted Nodoka's request for divorce.
That afternoon…
     "Kasumi-chan! I told you before! I'll do that!" Nodoka said in a gentle 
tone as she removed the ladle from the eldest sister's hands. Since they 
had moved into Nodoka's home, Kasumi had been trying to make herself 
useful by doing the household chores. Nodoka however, insisted that she 
take a vacation from her normal duties. She certainly earned it.
     "I'm sorry Mrs. Saotome…. I mean Ms. Masaki."
     Nodoka smiled at the well-mannered girl and said, "That is all right, 
Kasumi-chan. You may call me Nodoka. All of you can! And as for the 
Saotome name, you don't have to worry about it. As of tomorrow, all 
ties between me and that idiot Genma will be nothing but a readily 
forgotten memory."
     "I wish I could forget a few things." Kasumi said with a heavy heart.
     "Your father hasn't contacted you yet?" 
     Kasumi sadly shook her head. "No. I'm afraid no one has seen him or 
Mr. Saotome since that day. When I went to the dojo today to pick up a 
few of Nabiki's things, I was hoping that Father would be there. But it 
was obvious that no one had been inside for days! I'm very worried!"
     "Kasumi, I'm very sorry for what happened that day. My sons and I 
had planned to inform Genma and your father that we were renouncing 
the Saotome name. That, by itself would have freed you and your sisters 
from the vow. I did not expect that your father would go to such 
extremes and disown the three of you. Nor did I expect that you would 
all go against him."
     Kasumi let of a tired and resigned sigh. "It would have made no 
difference. We would have told him as to how we felt about the 
promise in any case. It was a difficult decision, but it had to be made."
     "Tell me. Why did you go against your father?"
     "When my mother died, I took it upon myself to take care of the 
house and the family. I suppose people looked at me as the dutiful 
daughter. But… even though I enjoyed caring for my sisters and my 
father, I discovered that I was missing much from my life. I didn't get 
much of a chance to leave the house and just enjoy myself. I didn't have 
any friends; save for the housewives I met at the market. They were all 
twice my age and already had two to three children. I felt as if I was 
trapped in a position, in which I had very little choice. I had to care for 
my family!"
     Kasumi let off another sigh before continuing. "Father had become 
very distraught after our mother had died. He proved to be too 
emotional to properly teach any students, despite the fact that we lived 
in a training dojo. As the years went by, he became even more 
despondent. Unfortunately, this also made him unwilling to go out very 
much. He was afraid to face the world after losing Mother. He kept to 
himself and this made him drift from his family. Akane began having 
problems with boys at school. Nabiki had been getting involved in… 
questionable affairs to raise money, since Father did not have a job."
     "Yes. My sons had informed me of some of the difficulties at the 
     "Difficulties would be a bit of an understatement." Kasumi agreed. 
"When my father learned of Ranma's arrival, he became extremely 
happy at the prospect. That was when we were informed of one of us 
being engaged to him."
     "Yes, my sons had also told me that neither they nor you and your 
sisters had been informed of it that day."
     "That's right. At first, I thought that I might finally get to experience 
what it would be like to get close to someone other than my family. 
Perhaps, even to experience… love. But, then I saw Ranma's curse."
     "And you panicked." Nodoka guessed. 
     Kasumi became a little surprised at Nodoka's insight, but then 
nodded. "Yes. I was totally unprepared for Ranma's unique situation. I 
then passed the engagement along to Akane and… well, I'm sure that 
your sons told you what happened afterward."
     "Yes, I heard that they were constantly at odds with one another. But 
what about your father and… Genma? Didn't they see that they were an 
unlikely match?"
     Kasumi let off a tired sigh and a look of sadness as she responded, 
"I'm afraid that they were too caught up in the thought of uniting the 
schools, that they didn't see or just ignored the conflicts between 
Ranma and Akane. They were constantly trying to push the two of them 
together, but I'm sure that your sons have told you that as well. Ranma 
and Akane's own opinions were not considered as valid and every time 
they would object to something, my father and Mr. Saotome would 
remind them that it was their duty and a matter of honor. Unfortunately, 
the constant nagging, bickering, cajoling and badgering toward them to 
get married only added to the problem. I hate to admit that I was also a 
part of the problem."
     Kasumi nodded. "I was so intent on making Akane the perfect wife 
for Ranma that I did not even think about her own feelings at being 
forced to marry someone against her will. Akane has had a difficult 
time with coping with her life in general, much less deal with an 
arranged marriage."
     "Yes, I recall that she had to battle all those boys at school before 
my Ranma arrived at the dojo."
     "That's right. And because of that and the fact that she prided herself 
as being the best at martial arts, she wasn't very skilled at other things. 
You see Akane does not have much in the way of her domestic skills 
and… well, quite frankly, I have a feeling that it will take a long while 
before she can even master the basics. Many times I had offered to 
teach her how to cook, sew and so on, but before Ranma came, she had 
very little interest. Her social skills when dealing with others were also 
lacking as she seemed to be rough, tactless and, forgive me for being 
crude, but she was also tomboyish."
     "I see. Is that when she went into he routine of hating all boys."
     "Well you must admit, the boys at school and especially Tatewaki 
Kuno were not good examples for her to associate with."
     "Point taken."
     "When Ranma came and demonstrated that he was far better at 
martial arts, Akane felt her world being threatened. The fact the Ranma 
was really a boy just added fuel to the fire. When Shampoo, Ukyo and 
those other girls showed up and proved that they were also better, not 
just at martial arts, but also in domestic skills Akane's self-esteem 
began to sink even lower. She was constantly teased as to how 
unfeminine she was and I didn't help matters when I pointed out that she 
needed bridal training. The pressure finally got to her and she then tried 
to outdo the others at everything. Martial arts, cooking, sewing and 
anything else that she considered she could master. However, in just 
about every case… she failed miserably."
     "Both Ranmas did tell me that she tended to rush things."
     "Yes, but you must understand her situation. Although Akane would 
never admit it openly, she did have some feelings toward him. Seeing 
those other girls outperform her in front of her was a terrible blow. The 
fact that Ranma always teased her just made it worse. She felt that she 
needed to show everyone that she can do what everyone else could do, 
perhaps even better. Unfortunately, patience was not one of her virtues 
as she expected to master the skill on the first try. Seeing Ranma easily 
master any technique made her think that the skill was simple to learn. 
However, she did not take into account that Ranma was eidetic. Show 
him any method, and give him a reason to learn it and he'll master it. He 
rarely needs to be shown twice. I suppose that's what makes him a good 
martial artist."
     "So that's why Akane is so competitive? It's because Ranma can do 
things better than her?"
     "That's a big part of the reason. Ranma is a boy, but he has shown 
himself as a better girl. He can cook and sew extremely well, and he 
was a better martial artist even as a girl. Akane just didn't realize that 
there are many steps between being a novice and being a master. She 
needs to realize that if you want to be good at something, then you have 
to work at it. All of us has to practice, even Ranma. The only difference 
is that Ranma just works much faster than most people."
     "I see. So what you are saying is that Akane has great potential, but 
because no one takes her seriously and the fact that she is impatient, 
she is prevented from achieving her goals."
     "Basically, that's it. Father never trained her much in the past, and 
when Ranma came along, Akane's martial arts skills did not improve 
since then. All the focus was on Ranma's training, while my poor sister 
was neglected. She had no one to show her how to get better. Ranma 
would spar with her now and then, but his refusal to hit girls only made 
her angry. Shampoo, Ukyo and Kodachi were steadily improving, both 
in fighting and domestic skills, leaving Akane even further behind."
     "Didn't your father see that his daughter needed help?"
     Kasumi's expression hardened ever so slightly, but Nodoka noticed 
it. With a firm voice, the oldest daughter replied, "That was one of the 
reasons why we refused him five days ago! As I said before, Father was 
very insistent on fulfilling the vow to unite the schools. He was so 
caught up in that promise that he either didn't notice or didn't care that 
Akane was having difficulties, just so long as she married Ranma and 
carried on the school. I'm not saying that he didn't love us all, but his 
obsession with the vow had made him ignorant of the fact that the 
relationship between my sister and your son was just too volatile. And 
I'll tell you something else."
     "I'm listening."
     "All this time, I had been going along with the engagement, since I 
believed that it was in Akane's best interests. I had thought that my 
father was also doing it because of that reason. We were both concerned 
about her future and wanted to make sure she was well taken care of. 
However, these past few days have made me realize that was not the case. 
It wasn't for her sake or Ranma's that my father and Mr. Saotome made 
that arrangement. It was for THEIR sakes. My father never helped in 
supporting the family and its financial problems, and you do know how 
lazy your former husband is. They didn't care that Akane and Ranma were 
at each other's throats, since they assumed they were going through 
phases in their relationship and would eventually marry. In fact, I suspect 
that it wouldn't have mattered if any one of us were engaged to Ranma, 
so long as one Tendo girl was the fiancée. I believe that they intended on 
an early retirement, living off the dojo run by their children. My 
suspicions were confirmed when Father made that ultimatum."
     "But surely he was only acting out of anger!"
     "At first, that's what I thought too, but something inside of me said 
otherwise. I considered all that had happened in the past year, and 
discovered that the engagement itself was the reason why the two 
families were falling apart. Also, I considered other things as well. 
Father was so intent on getting Ranma and Akane together that he didn't 
give much attention to his other two daughters. He seemed very content 
to let me continue caring for the household and Nabiki to take care of 
the bills. What would have happened if those two did get married? 
Would that mean that Nabiki and I would still be stuck in the same 
situation? We both have dreams for our future as well. We want to 
eventually find someone to love and start our own family. Father never 
did more than talk occasionally about it with us."
     Nodoka nodded as she felt Kasumi's pain and frustration.
     "We've lost so much time with our own lives when Mother died. I… 
don't know of any boys my age and Nabiki hasn't been able to get any 
suitors because of her reputation as a mercenary! We wanted so much 
to talk to Father about it, but we were either too scared or he could not 
be bothered with it! When Akane renounced her claim on Ranma… he 
was more than ready to hand over the engagement to us, without even 
finding out how might feel about it! It seems that the engagement was 
more important to him than his family was. Why else has he not 
contacted us since then?"
     "Kasumi, I am so sorry that this has happened to you and your 
sisters." Nodoka saw the tears streaming down the brown-haired girl's 
cheeks as she began sobbing a bit. Taking the girl into her arms, the 
mother of the Ranma twins held her tightly and let Kasumi soak her 
shoulder with her tears.
     "It's so unfair!" Kasumi sobbed. "We've lost everything! Our father! 
Our home! Our family name! We have nothing but each other now!"
     "No Kasumi. My sons and I support the three of you as well. As I 
said before, you and your sisters may stay here as long as you wish. On 
that note, there is something else that I would like to speak to you and 
your sisters about."
     Kasumi stopped in her tears as she looked up at Nodoka's smiling 
and warm face.
     After gesturing her to sit at the dining table, the mother of the 
Masaki twins, (Remember, they're not Saotomes any more), began to 
explain her plans for the future. In less than a minute, the usually calm 
and collected Kasumi was rendered speechless.
At the Nekohanten…
     Ranma Red, Ranma Blue and Cologne suddenly appeared in a bright 
flash of light in front of the Cat Café.
     Shaking her head slightly, Cologne looked at the red-shirted Ranma 
with awe. "I'll never get over how you can do that, son-in-law!"
     "Hey Red! You're getting better! Your range is getting longer!"
     "I know! Every time I do it, it gets easier! I feel stronger than before!"
     "Well, Taron and Soren did say that as you increase your skill levels, 
so does your powers." Cologne replied as she hopped toward the door 
of the restaurant.
     "Hey great-grandmother! Need any help?" Ranma Red asked.
     "No son-in-law. Since you and your brother are nearing the end of 
your training, I feel that it is no longer necessary to have this 
establishment. It was our means of livelihood during our stay in Japan. 
However, since we are returning to China in a week, I feel that it has 
served its purpose. I had planned for a going-out-of-business sale in a 
few days. Ukyo, Kasumi and Nabiki have offered to help me, since 
Shampoo cannot leave Akane alone."
     "How's she doing?" Ranma Blue inquired. "I mean, since Taron and 
his brother has stepped up the training, we haven't been able to see her 
in a while."
     "So far, she has been getting along. I won't lie to you though. The Xi 
Fang Xiang Gao Shiatsu technique is already losing much of its 
effectiveness. Yesterday, Shampoo had to use almost a whole bottle to 
make it work! Our supplies of Formula 110 are getting dangerously low 
and I don't have enough of the rare herbal extracts to make more! Not 
that it would matter much, since Akane seems to be developing an 
immunity to it! I'm afraid we're going to have find an alternative way to 
help Akane. It's strange though. Each time she remembers her 
experience in the Kami Plane, she recalls it with more intensity. Each 
episode becomes more extreme than the last. It's almost as if she was 
still in the Realm of Oblivion and the demons were continuing to tear 
her soul apart!"
     As she said this, the twins began to consider it. They recalled back to 
the time when they first pulled Akane out of the Realm of Oblivion. 
They shuddered at the memory. Their new powers in magic and 
elemental abilities were useless against them and their martial arts did 
not prove effective either. They were barely able to escape with their 
souls and Akane's intact. Then a thought occurred to them.
     "Hey! You don't suppose…" Ranma Blue began.
     "Yeah! That's makes sense!" Ranma Red said.
     "What makes sense son-in-law?" Cologne asked.
     "Well, we were kind of wondering why the Dark World has left us 
alone so far. I mean after that fight with Happosai and our experience in 
the Kami Plane, you'd think that they would be trying again to kill us 
before we became even stronger!"
     "Come to think of it," Ranma Blue added, "we haven't been attacked 
lately. You're right Red! They must be planning something! It must have 
something to do with Akane! That's the only thing I could think of why 
she had gotten worse instead of better!"
     "You thinking what I'm thinking?"
     Ranma Blue nodded as he closed his eyes and reached with his newly 
enhanced senses. His brother did likewise. Cologne gazed at the two in 
confusion as the new heirs to the Masaki name glowed with blue and red 
auras. The energies combined with each other and then turned white. For 
a long minute, there was silence. Suddenly, their eyes snapped open as 
they came across something that made their blood turn cold. Their auras 
faded away and they took on expressions of horror and shock. At the 
same time, clouds had formed overhead and the sky began to crackle 
with thunder and lightning. The denizens of Tokyo looked up in 
confusion. The weather reports had predicted a clear and sunny day. The 
air became charged with an eerie and foreboding atmosphere as a feeling 
of dread washed over the city. Something big was about to happen. 
     "What is it son-in-law?" Cologne asked in a concerned tone.
     Both twins looked at one another then set their sights at the aged 
matriarch. They said nothing for long moments, then shouted out two 
words to the heavens.
     "SOREN! TARON!"
In the Realm of Oblivion…
     "Well I was wondering when they would figure it out." Zuruka said 
with a smirk as he watched the scene on the viewing portal.
     "I was beginning to think that we would have to drop a few hints.' 
Arcodos agreed as he gazed behind him at a large crystal sphere that 
was suspended itself in midair.
     Inside the crystal was a transparent, ghostlike figure. It stood erect 
with its eyes closed and its head bowed down. The ghost was female in 
appearance and had short hair. The specter looked like a young Japanese 
girl of sixteen. What was the most surprising thing about it was that it 
had a flawless resemblance to the youngest daughter of Soun Tendo. 
The reason for that was… it was Akane Tendo!
     "Master Sharoka was a genius to suggest that we create a 
doppleganger from this soul!" Arcodos cackled.
     "Yes." Zuruka agreed. "It was mere child's play to take a small 
portion of her being and use it as a template to create a virtual duplicate 
soul, complete with memories and experiences. Why it even fooled 
Soren and Taron!"
     "Indeed. I think we put on quite a performance when their champions 
arrived to claim their friend. They didn't know that they had rescued a 
carbon copy, while we still retained the original! Since the two souls 
are still connected, our ministrations to this soul is affecting the 
doppleganger on Earth!"
     "And bringing the copy to Earth has further weakened the 
dimensional barrier! We will be able to invade the Earth realm that 
much sooner!" 
     "Yes. Undoubtedly, the Saotome twins, or should I say the Masaki 
twins will now be coming back to us! To rescue Akane again. We 
should prepare for them!"
     "That's right! By now, they should have improved since we last 
'fought them.' Their power levels are just where we want them to be! 
This time however, we're not going to have the 'kid gloves' on!"
     "It is good that all is going to plan!"
     Both demons shared a satanic laugh as they awaited the return of the 
Champions of Earth.
The Earth Realm…
     {"COME AGAIN?! You want to go BACK to the Realm of 
Oblivion?!"} Taron said in disbelief. 
     {"We have to!"} Ranma Blue pleaded. {"Akane's still in there!"}
     {"Impossible!"} Soren stated. {"You got her back already! Besides if 
she was still in there, then it would be too late for her! Her eight-hour 
limit would have long since expired. What makes you think that she's 
still there?"}
     {"When Cologne said that Akane was acting like she was still being 
tortured by those demons, my brother and I decided to scan the Kami 
plane!"} Ranma Blue explained. {"We detected her presence! And those 
two demons still have her. We then scanned Akane here and found out 
that her ki wasn't… right. It was if Akane was there, but only a small 
part of her soul was present!"}
     {"So that's it."} Taron replied.
     {"What?"} Both Ranmas asked.
     {"A doppleganger."} Soren said firmly.
     {"Doppleganger?"} Ranma Blue said in a confused tone.
     {"It looks like Arcodos and Zuruka has pulled the wool over our eyes 
and used some of Akane's soul to create a duplicate that was infused 
with Dark World energy. When you two returned to the Realm of 
Infinity, we had no time to properly check Akane's soul. After merging 
it with her body and sending it back to Earth, we caused a connection to 
be formed between your world and the Realm of Oblivion! They must 
have continued torturing Akane's soul, knowing full well that the 
doppleganger would also be affected!"}
     {"Why did they do all this?"} Ranma Red asked.
     {"Apparently, they want to break down the dimensional barrier that 
much sooner! Before you two gain your full potential! Every time they 
torment Akane's soul, the damage done to it is transferred over to the 
doppleganger, thereby causing a rift to occur in the space time 
continuum. The original disruption happened when you two brought 
back the original body, but only a small portion of Akane's soul! Her 
body has now become a nexus between the two realities!"}
     Taron then took up the explanation, {"Each time they cause damage 
to her soul, the effect increases geometrically. That would explain why 
Akane has gotten worse instead of better! It's only a matter of time 
before the dimensional wall breaks down completely! Already we're 
receiving reports from Belldandy that the Ultimate Force System is on 
the verge of crashing!"}
     {"Then we have to get the rest of Akane's soul back into her body to 
stop the process, right?"} Ranma Blue said. {"But it's been more than 
eight hours since we've been there!"}
     {"The fact that Zuruka and Arcodos had created the doppleganger has 
worked in our favor too. Since you got a small piece of her soul out 
before the eight-hour limit, she hasn't been totally acclimated into the 
Kami Plane! Because of that, it is theoretically possible to bring back 
the rest of her soul and merge it with her body, thereby purging it of all 
Dark World influence!"}
     {"Okay! Let's do it!"} Ranma Blue said as he and his sibling began 
powering up their ki energies.
     {"Hold on there!"} Soren said. {"There are other things to consider 
before you go charging off into Dark World territory!"}
     {"What's that?"} Ranma Red queried.
     {"We just figured out the rest of the Dark World's intentions! The 
reason why they haven't attacked you as of late was because they 
wanted you two to achieve your current power levels!"}
     {"Huh?"} Both Ranmas said confused.
     {"They knew that you would figure out that Akane was still in the 
Realm of Oblivion. They expected that you would have to return there 
to retrieve her, not only to save her but also to stop the deterioration of 
the dimensional wall. And they know that we can't enter the Kami 
Plane! But…"}
     {"But what?"} Ranma Blue inquired.
     {"At present, the two of you now possess forty to forty-five percent 
of your total potential. That's a lot of power and you would have to 
undoubtedly use it. Zuruka and Arcodos aren't pushovers! A battle with 
that much energy in the Realm of Oblivion would cause a disruption 
that would backlash throughout all realities! It would also travel down 
the connection with Earth, thereby permanently opening your world to 
     {"So you're saying that if we don't do anything, the Dark World will 
use Akane to invade Earth! If do fight them, we run the risk of speeding 
up the process?"} Ranma Red said incredulously.
     {"Damned if we do and damned if we don't!"} Ranma Blue declared.
     {"Yes. I'm afraid that in either case, Akane will die! Permanently this 
time! The strain of causing a dimensional rift would be too much for 
her soul to take. It would disperse and she would cease to exist!"} Taron 
gave a long tired sigh.
     {"Looks like we have a choice to make."} Ranma Blue quietly 
informed his brother. The Masaki twins looked at each other as they 
considered their options. Cologne waited by their side for their decision.
     At the house of Nodoka, Kasumi was also being presented with a 
     "Well Kasumi?" Nodoka asked. "Would you like to accept my offer? 
If Soun Tendo has truly disowned the three of you, then I would be 
honored to adopt you, Akane and Nabiki as my daughters. Like my sons, 
you will all be part of the Masaki family."
To be continued…
Author's Notes
     What can I say? I LOVE plot twists! When people complained that 
Akane had recovered too easily from her ordeal, I decided to throw 
them for a loop and show that the twins had not truly rescued her yet! 
This is probably the first time that Ranma had not totally succeeded in 
saving Akane this time around!
     Another aspect that this chapter has shown is some relevant 
information about Akane. After reading some of my E-mail, I found that 
they made some good points and that the judgments about her character 
in the story so far were one-sided. Kudos to all the readers who made 
those suggestions and comments.
     On to Chapter 20!