Dual Destinies
Disclaimers are a pain to write so I'll let the readers fill in the 
blanks this time.
{" "} Telepathic communication
<>: Thoughts
                                  Chapter 33
                                 Second Trial
                        The Swordsman of Eternal Sorrow
     After their victory against the vampire Barada, the twins were 
given one day to rest and recover before they were to face their next 
opponent. Their wives had given them an enthusiastic welcome 
when they appeared in the Amazon village. Ukyo Masaki was 
especially glad to see that her husband Ranma Blue had survived his 
encounter with the bloodsucker.
     "Are you all right honey?" The okonomiyaki chef glomped onto 
the elemental twin.
     "I'm fine Ucchan. But let me tell you. The only person that I want 
to give me a hickey is you."
     The Masaki family gathered there couldn't help but laugh at the 
joke. When they finally calmed down, the twins separated 
themselves from their spouses and approached the immortal twins.
     "Here." Ranma Red held out the medallion that Sharoka had given 
     Taron and Soren nodded as the magic-using immortal took it. 
"You have done well Chosen Twins."
     "Indeed." Taron agreed. "I must admit, we were a little worried but 
we knew that you'd come out on top."
     "So what's next?" Ranma Blue inquired.
     "Tomorrow, you two shall have to defeat Gaizera, the Blade 
     "Blade master?" Ranma Red repeated.
     Both immortals nodded as Taron continued. "Gaizera happens to 
be the Dark World's most skilled swordsman and possesses great 
mystical powers as well. Barada was just a preliminary."
     "Anything more that you can tell us?" Ranma Blue asked.
     "I'm afraid not. The Contract clearly states that you two must do 
this on your own. We can only observe the trials and make certain 
that the rules are followed."
     The Chosen Twins looked at each other, then nodded.
     In the main lodge of the village, another scene was taking place. 
Mousse stood in front of the Council of Elders with some 
nervousness. His mother Aloe stood on the sidelines and was also 
on edge as Cologne finished with her testimony concerning 
Mousse's acts of misconduct and violation of the terms of his 
Honor Duel with Ranma Red.
     The Eldest of the Matriarches, Powder, gazed at the myopic 
martial artist with a penetrating stare that made the son of Aloe 
flinch. She studied the Hidden Weapons master for a long moment 
of silence that seemed to go on forever. Finally, she decided to 
     <"Mousse. Son of Aloe and disciple of Hace, the grandmaster of 
the Hidden Weapons styles. You have brought disgrace upon your 
family and caused much trouble for our village. In the past, we had 
tolerated your disregard for our tribal laws in your relentless 
pursuit of Shampoo. However, your most heinous crime of all was 
to go back upon the terms set by your Honor Duel with Cologne's 
son-in-law. Ranma Red was well within his rights and had reminded 
Cologne that you never got Shampoo's consent nor defeated her in 
fair combat. For this transgression, the penalty would have been 
your immediate execution!">
     Aloe gasped as her face turned white. She had just gotten her son 
back and the thought of losing him again so soon was too 
unbearable. She was about to protest when Powder held up her hand 
to silence her and continued.
     <"However, Ranma Red had spoken to me when he returned with 
you and his party. He and Cologne had petitioned for the Council to 
grant you leniency since your past actions had been influenced by 
the evil forces of the Dark World. We have discussed the matter 
and have come to a decision. Since you have repeatedly disregarded 
the laws of the our village, the Council has seen fit to remove you 
from it. You shall no longer have to be concerned about the laws of 
the Amazons, as you are to be stripped of your heritage. It is the will 
of the Council that you are to be permanently exiled from the 
village and the lands of the Joketsuzoku. Never again shall you be 
allowed to step foot inside the boundaries of your native soil. 
Should you ever disobey this judgment, then you will be killed on 
     Mousse blanched a bit when he heard these words, but he 
expected no less. Aloe was both feeling relief and sorrow. Her son 
would live, but she would never be able to see him within the lands 
of the Amazons. He was now considered an outcast.
     <"Furthermore,"> Powder continued. <"It is also the will of the 
Council that you give up all pursuit of Shampoo. She is now married 
in accordance to our laws and we will not tolerate your pestering of 
her. Disobeying this edict shall also result in your immediate 
execution! Am I making myself absolutely clear?">
     Mousse could only nod as he tried to hold back the tears.
     <"Then the judgment is passed! You have a week to get your 
affairs in order and leave here forever! If you are not gone from our 
lands before that time, then we shall make certain that you will have 
a second opportunity to experience death!">
     The Council of Elders nodded to the near-blind boy before 
leaving to retire for the day. Aloe went over to embrace her son, 
tears flowing from her eyes like a river after the spring thaw.
     In the Dark World, Sharoka was sitting in his throne room and 
was in deep contemplation. A moment later, Makana and Katoka 
were admitted to the chamber.
     The black-robed Makana spoke first. "My Lord. We have 
informed Gaizera that he shall be the next to confront Soren and 
Taron's champions."
     "You have done well." Sharoka replied in an even tone.
     "My Lord? A question if I may ask?" Katoka said.
     "What is it?"
     "We can understand why you had Barada challenge the twins. The 
fool had his own agenda and we see that it was your plan to rid 
yourself of that would-be usurper. However, we cannot fathom why 
you wish Gaizera to face off against the Masaki twins. We would 
think that Gaizera would do all that he could to intentionally lose to 
the Chosen Twins, given his… situation. We also would think that 
you were already aware of that possibility."
     Sharoka grinned a bit as he responded. "I am aware of it, and I am 
counting on it."
     "Then why…?"
     "You need not concern yourself about such trivial matters. 
Gaizera will do battle with the Chosen Twins, whether he wants to 
or not. If he is victorious, then the Dark World shall win the 
Contract. If he is defeated, then our plans are still unchanged. I love 
win-win situations!"
The very next day on Earth…
     "Be careful Ranma honey!" Ukyo gave her husband a long and 
passionate kiss as they embraced. She had almost died of fright 
when she had witnessed her spouse nearly perish at the hands of 
Barada. It had taken Ranma Blue some considerable effort to calm 
her down and reassure her that everything would be all right.
     "Come back soon Airen!" Shampoo followed suit as she touched 
lips with Ranma Red.
     The rest of the Masaki family and Soun Tendo were gathered 
again at the viewing portal as Soren and Taron prepared to send their 
champions once more into the Dark World. Many other Amazons 
and even the Council of Elders were also present to witness the next 
battle within that evil realm. With great reluctance, the twin 
champions of Earth released their wives and nodded to their 
benefactors. Before transporting them, the immortals warned the 
twins that staying too long in the Dark World would begin to 
corrupt them, as the evil energies would attempt to consume their 
souls. After nodding their understanding, the Ranma twins were 
transported into Sharoka's domain.
In the Dark World…
     Ranma Red and his brother appeared near the foot of a mountain 
range in the realm of eternal night. With a nod to each other, the 
two powered up their flight abilities and began heading toward the 
place where they would meet with their opponent. A few minutes 
later, Ranma Blue pointed down to a plateau that was surrounded by 
towering peaks. The magic-wielding Masaki brother nodded as he 
spotted a figure that was near the far edge of the flat surface. The 
two quickly descended and landed lightly on the rocky platform. 
     Opposite to where they had come down, stood a large man who 
was wearing crimson armor and was more than six and a half feet in 
height. He was human looking in appearance and seemed to be of 
Japanese descent. He had long black hair that was tied in an 
elaborate braid. His armor and clothes resembled that of a 
samurai's, but they had demon figureheads carved into the shoulder 
guards. The twins could feel the immense power that he was 
radiating. Right now, his back was turned to them, and it seemed as 
if he was taking no notice of them. He had a faraway look about him 
and it appeared as if he was contemplating the dark, swirling clouds 
in the distance.
     Ranma Red ignited the Light Star Blade while his brother held 
Storm Striker at the ready. The scene was one of great tension as 
the twins sized up their opponent. The man was heavily muscled but 
he seemed to also covey grace and absolute control. The discipline 
he was maintaining would have made any sensei proud and he 
betrayed no emotion. What caught the eyes of the Ranma brothers 
was his weapon. The katana was currently unsheathed and reflected 
the light of a nearby volcano. The sword had a three-foot, slightly 
curved blade and seemed to be made of a pure, black metal. The 
handguard was not the usual round design of the traditional samurai 
sword, but it was instead made up of curved talons of some beasts 
arranged in a circular pattern. The hilt was also black and was 
wrapped in a cloth that was made of some kind of reptilian skin. 
     The warrior gave no indication of noticing the twins' presence as 
he held his sword at his side. The tension began to mount as the 
silence continued. Finally, Ranma Red decided to break the 
     "Are you Gaizera the Blade Master?"
     The twins waited for his response. When they did not get one, 
Ranma Blue repeated the question.
     "Are you Gaizera the Blade Master?"
     Again there was no answer. The twins began wondering if the 
figure had even heard them. They decided to get closer and took a 
tentative step forward. The warrior made no movement. They took 
another step and nothing happened. They took a few more paces and 
the swordsman still would not budge. When they got to within a 
dozen feet of him, they stopped and Ranma Red decided to ask 
     "Are you…?"
     "I am he who is Gaizera." The figure answered in a cold and 
emotionless voice as he slowly turned to face the twins. The two 
Ranmas took a few steps back and held up their weapons to prepare 
for battle. It was then that they got a good look at the face of their 
     Gaizera for all intents and purposes looked like a normal human 
being. It was his eyes however, that set him apart. His eyes were 
pure crimson and had no pupils or irises. Their gaze seemed to 
penetrate into the souls of the twins and they couldn't help but feel 
a small shiver run up their spines.
     Gaizera began gauging the power levels of the two before him 
and nodded as he took up a ready stance and held his sword up. He 
made no other movement as he began speaking in a low and cold 
     "Hear me well, Chosen Twins. Though we are fated to fight this 
day, know that I bear no malice against you or your world. In fact, it 
is my greatest wish that you succeed in defeating me."
     "Forgive us if we find that hard to believe!" Ranma Red retorted 
as the glow of the Light Star Blade reflecting his emotions.
     "I would have expected no less. But perhaps if I were to tell you 
why I so wish for my defeat, then you may understand me better."
     Ranma Blue gave his brother a puzzled look in which Ranma Red 
returned. Both then turned their gazes back toward the strange 
swordsman before giving him an almost imperceptible nod for him 
to continue.
     Gaizera caught it and began telling his story. "I was born on Earth 
centuries ago." Gaizera caught the looks of surprise on the twins' 
faces. "Yes, that's right. I came from your world. As to how I 
became a servant of the Dark World, it is due to a pact I made to 
this realm, in which I have regretted for the last fifteen centuries. I 
was once a very young and brash warrior, much like the two of you 
were before Soren and Taron came to you. I was a ronin samurai and 
I traveled up and down Japan in search of challengers in which to 
test my skills. I fought many duels and even against fabled 
swordsmen, the end was always the same. Then one day, I met a 
great warrior who went by the name of Myamoto Musashi."
     "Myamoto Musashi? THE Myamoto Musashi?" Ranma Blue said 
in disbelief.
     "The very same." Gaizera nodded. "At the time, he had yet to 
acquire the legendary skills that would make his name known 
throughout history, but he was still good enough to battle me. The 
grueling duel lasted for hours and the finally, the match ended in a 
draw, unresolved. My burning pride was tarnished and the possibility 
that others may be able to match my skills was too unbearable for 
me to think about."
     Ranma Red and Ranma Blue felt a slight pang of sympathy for 
Gaizera as they too remembered when they had been full of pride 
and strove to be the best.
     "My pride drove me to resort to any means in which to become 
the ultimate master of the blade." Gaizera continued. "And so, I 
approached the dark lords of this realm and traded my soul for the 
blade known as the Demon Fang." Gaizera held up the sword in front 
of him. "Like you Ranma Red, as soon as I held it, the knowledge of 
the greatest sword masters and the most powerful secrets of the 
blade were made known to me. I felt power surging through me and I 
knew that nothing could stop me. I went in search of Myamoto 
Musashi for a rematch. It was over in an instant. Musashi could not 
compete with my skill or power and I had him on his knees and at 
my mercy. I could have ended his life right then but he had admitted 
to me that I was his better, and so I spared him. The years would 
pass and my fame grew, but I soon became aware of the downside of 
my wish."
     "And that was…?" Ranma Blue asked.
     "There were no more challenges. There was no one who could 
match my skills or my sword!" Gaizera said with sadness. "It was 
like I had eaten and drank my fill. There was nothing more to strive 
for! It wasn't long before I cursed myself for agreeing to take the 
Demon Fang! However, to my greatest regret, I cannot undo the pact 
that I had made with the Dark World!"
     "What happened?" Ranma Red inquired.
     "In exchange for the Demon Fang and its power, I had become an 
eternal lackey for the dark lord Sharoka. Throughout the centuries, I 
had done his bidding and caused much suffering and pain to the 
innocents of this world and on Earth as well. I had also found that 
the Demon Fang had permanently bonded to my soul and causes me 
to feel the anguish and pain that I cause to others, but at a hundred 
times the intensity! I have been constantly pleading to Sharoka to 
end my wretched existence but he will not! My only salvation lies 
within the Contract itself!"
     "What do you mean?" Ranma Red asked.
     "I have tried many times to end my existence by turning the 
powers of the Dark World upon myself but it did not work! I have 
tried to kill myself with the Demon Fang. I have angered Sharoka 
many times in hopes that his power would destroy me. I have 
attempted time and time again to stop the torment that is what I have 
become! None of that has worked! Sharoka had made certain that I 
would stay in his power by casting a spell upon me that has made me 
immune to all magic within the Dark Realm! The Demon Fang and 
all those within this realm draw their power from here! Trying to 
destroy myself with the same power that gives one's strength was 
redundant! I need a power great enough to destroy me, yet does not 
come from the Dark World! The power of the Chosen Twins!"
     "You want us to… kill you?" Ranma Blue said in an uncertain 
     "You are my only hope! Even now, the Demon Fang is demanding 
that I spill your blood! I am trying to hold… it back so that… you 
can strike!" The samurai began to quiver and twitch as he gripped the 
hilt of the evil weapon. The blade began to glow with a dark red light 
as it began enveloping the warrior in its thrall. "H-Hurry! I-I-I 
c-can't hold it back much longer! The…power… the… power is 
tearing me up inside!" Gaizera's body trembled even more violently 
as the sword became brighter. "P-Please! This will be your easiest 
victory! I-I-If you will not do this for me… then think about your 
loved ones! My destruction will bring you one step closer to 
winning the Contract and save… your world from… Sharoka's 
madness! Now… KILL ME!"
     The twins looked at each other, uncertain of what to do. They had 
never killed anyone in their lives but Taron and Soren had taught 
them that the possibility might come up in the trials. There was also 
the Contract to think about. Gaizera's death would assure them of 
another victory and free the tortured soul from his eternal servitude 
of the Dark World. They gripped their weapons and gave each other 
a final look before tuning to their foe.
     "H-H-Hurry! Kill me now before it's too late!"
     Both twins began powering up their auras and the entire mountain 
range began to light up. When their power reached a high enough 
level, Ranma Blue quietly said to the poor man, "May Kami-sama 
grant you final peace Gaizera."
     The twins began charging Gaizera to deliver the deathblows. 
However, their hesitation had proven to be a moment too long as 
Gaizera suddenly flared with blinding energies and a huge 
windstorm appeared around him. The gale force winds caught the 
twins off guard and threw them back. Large rocks were picked up 
and tossed about like toys. A large boulder came hurtling toward the 
twins and Ranma Red countered with a chi blast.
     The beam of chi energy vaporized the boulder into pebbles but 
the resulting debris blinded the two for a few seconds. Then, as 
suddenly as the storm started, it then stopped. The Chosen Twins 
scrambled to their feet and took a stance to face off against Gaizera. 
What they saw made their blood run cold.
     Gaizera was standing with his sword held at the ready and slightly 
bent over. His eyes had turned to a solid black and his mouth was 
pulled back into a snarl. Drool was dripping from his mouth and he 
was emitting several grunts and snarls. It was very obvious that 
Gaizera had just lost all traces of humanity and had now become 
nothing more than a beast. A very angry beast with a bloodlust that 
could only be sated with pure, unadulterated violence and 
bloodshed. The Demon Fang was radiating so much evil energy that 
the twins knew that they had missed their window of opportunity.
     In the throne room of Sharoka's castle, the dark ruler chuckled as 
he watched the scene unfold in his crystal ball.
     "I thought as much. Gaizera thought he could get free of my 
control so easily but I knew that the Demon Fang wouldn't allow 
him to be destroyed by the Chosen Twins."
     "So the Demon Fang has turned Gaizera into a berserker?" Katoka 
     "Of a sort. His formidable skills and power has been fully 
activated and he will fight to the best of his abilities, despite his 
desire to end his existence. His mind is now focused on only one 
thing. Kill his opponents. With the Chosen Twins' reluctance to kill 
an unwilling pawn, this should prove… interesting. Gaizera's power 
level is far greater than Barada's and so I expect a huge amount of 
energy will be used in his battle against the champions of Earth."
     On the battlefield, both twins were getting an intense workout as 
Gaizera attacked them relentlessly. The sword techniques he used 
against them were more powerful than any others they had ever 
encountered. With the Demon Fang augmenting each of Gaizera's 
movements, the Masaki brothers were pushed to their limits to 
evade the whirling flashes of deadly light.
     Ranma Red's energy blade clashed with the Demon Fang dozens 
of times within the space of a few seconds. The sounds of crackling 
energy echoed throughout the mountains. Ranma Red used his 
teleport technique to evade a series of slashes that made Kuno's 
multiple strike technique look like child's play. The magic-using 
twin reappeared behind Gaizera, aiming his swordpoint at his 
exposed neck.
     The Dark World swordsman however, reacted with inhuman 
speed and parried the thrust. When the blades clashed, Gaizera let 
off a monstrous roar and used a feint to make Ranma Red drop his 
guard. The tactic worked and Ranma Red saw the dark blade come 
slicing down toward him.
     Luckily for him, the head of Storm Striker stopped the unholy 
sword. Ranma Blue had leapt to the defense of his brother and was 
now charging up some of his energies in his free right hand.
     The electrified punch nailed Gaizera in the kisser, but much to 
the twins' shock; the Blade Master didn't show any indication of 
even feeling the blow. With a casual swipe, he made the twins back 
off. The identical Ranmas faced off against the Gaizera with more 
than twenty yards between them. It was then that they noticed 
something bad about to happen.
     Gaizera took a stance and began charging up his energies. The 
Demon Fang was surrounded by a red-black aura and then suddenly, 
the Dark World warrior whipped his sword up in a graceful, vertical 
     The twins could not see the attack coming, but they felt its dark 
presence nonetheless. Leaping to either side, the two barely dodged 
the attack as it sliced up the ground in front of it, digging a huge 
trench. They felt the wind of its passing as it sped out and impacted 
a mountain some miles behind them. The eyes of the two Masaki 
brothers widened in surprised as the entire mountain was sliced in 
half! The two halves of the huge mass of rock fell to either side and 
then crumbled to pieces.
     {"Look out Red!"} Ranma Blue warned.
     Ranma Red was just getting over the surprise of nearly being cut 
in two when Gaizera used the momentary distraction to close the 
gap between them. He sent a series of thrusts at Ranma Red's head, 
which the brother of the elemental twin found almost impossible to 
evade. Several times the blade just nicked his face as he weaved in 
and out to dodge the evil weapon.
     Ranma Blue thought that with Gaizera occupied with trying to 
skewer his sibling, he had an opportunity to catch him off guard. 
Raising one hand to the heavens, he called forth his power over the 
elements. A bolt of lightning came down and he absorbed its power 
into the outstretched hand. He then threw the blast at Gaizera's 
exposed back.
     To his surprise however, Gaizera pivoted and deflected the bolt 
upward with his blade, then turned back around to continue his 
assault on Ranma Red. Ranma Blue never expected anyone who 
could move that fast to stop a lightning bolt at so short a range. 
Gaizera's parry was barely a flicker of movement and he had lost no 
rhythm in his attack against his brother.
     <Okay. Let's see him stop these!>
     The blue-shirted Masaki focused his ki, then launched a dozen 
chi blasts at his foe.
     Just as Ranma Blue shouted out his attack, Ranma Red finally 
managed to use his blade to parry one of Gaizera's strikes. With the 
momentary respite, he hopped up and delivered a sidekick to 
Gaizera's face at full strength. The blow connected with his jaw, 
causing him to step back slightly. Ranma Red then used Gaizera's 
chest to springboard himself away from him.
     Gaizera recovered from the blow in an instant and then turned to 
intercept Ranma Blue's projectiles. With casual swipes from his 
blade, he easily deflected each of the chi blasts as if he were 
fending off a horde of mosquitoes. He then turned back toward 
Ranma Red and suddenly disappeared.
     Ranma Red went into a defensive stance with the Light Star 
Blade held at the ready. Ranma Blue moved forward a bit with Storm 
Striker. Both waited for the next attack.
     Ranma Blue sensed Gaizera's presence but he couldn't tell where 
he was. Then, purely by instinct, he suddenly swerved to one side. 
The move proved to be a good one as a bright streak of light 
appeared before him. The elemental twin winced as the light cut into 
the front of his shirt and left a small gash in his chest. If he hadn't 
moved at that instant, the light would have sliced him in half. Blood 
began stain his shirt.
     Ranma Red used his own senses to try and locate their unseen 
foe. It was then that he had the premonition that something was 
behind him. He moved forward quickly and barely evaded death as a 
light appeared and sliced at his back. He also felt a stinging pain as 
the cut drew blood.
On Earth…
     "What's happening?" Shampoo asked as she saw her husband 
almost get sliced in half.
     Taron looked at the image that was being displayed in the viewing 
portal. "Gaizera has teleported himself to the astral plane and is 
using it to strike at them through the dimensional barrier. The 
Demon Fang is obscuring his aura, making it difficult for the twins 
to sense him."
     "The twins are in trouble now." Soren added as he pointed to the 
portal. "The injuries that the Demon Fang has caused to them is now 
growing worse. With each cut, the Dark World energies are starting 
to seep into their wounds, draining their strength. If they don't finish 
off Gaizera and soon, they'll become consumed by the evil power of 
that realm."
     "My husband and his brother will win!" Shampoo maintained, 
though she did not sound as confident.
     "Let's hope so."
In the Dark World…
     Ranma Blue wasn't feeling so good. So far he and his brother had 
been swinging their weapons at random, hoping to hit their still 
unseen opponent. This tactic was not giving them any results as 
more and more cuts and slashes began to show on their bodies. The 
Masaki twins began to feel nauseated and dizziness soon followed, 
making their response times and coordination become more 
     {"Damn! Where the hell is he?"} Ranma Blue swung the 
elemental hammer in another direction. He did not connect and was 
rewarded by a slash to the right thigh.
     {"I think I know where he is. I think he's in the astral plane!"} 
Ranma Red responded as he barely evaded another slash. {"I'm going 
to take the fight to him!"} Ranma Red's battle aura flared as he 
vanished from sight.
     Ranma Blue waited for a moment as soon as he saw his brother 
teleport himself to where Gaizera was. He then heard the sounds of 
blades clashing together. Looking up, he saw two different sets of 
lights as they flashed about the area like maddened hornets.
     <I guess Red must have found him!> Ranma Blue stood and 
watched as the lights danced about, signaling that the two sword 
masters were having a tremendous, high-speed duel in the other 
dimension. Ranma Blue watched in fascination as the flashed 
streaked and often merged as the swords parried and thrust at each 
other. Sparks were thrown in every direction and the surrounding 
area was torn up. 
     <Damn! I wish I could help him, but since I can't sense him… 
hey! Wait a minute! I may not be able to sense Gaizera, but my 
telepathic link let's me know where Red is! Let's see now…> 
Ranma Blue studied the pattern of lights that flashed about and 
noted that one pattern had a blue tint, while the other was colored 
reddish black. <Okay… If I'm right, those blue lights are coming 
from the Light Star Blade, so if I can use my link with Red…>
     The brother of the mystic Masaki began focusing his inner 
energies, searching for his sibling. A moment later, he smiled as he 
located Ranma Red. He then reared back and began twirling Storm 
Striker by its thong. <Kami-sama, guide my hand!> Ranma Blue 
waited, as the flashes of lights became more furious in intensity. 
When the lights appeared before him ten meters away, he threw the 
hammer toward the reddish black sparks. The elemental weapon 
glowed with a white light as it streaked toward the sparks.
     There was a huge explosion as the hammer smashed into the 
space that corresponded with Gaizera's position in the astral plane. 
The Dark Warrior screamed in surprise and pain as the sudden 
impact and release of energies from Storm Striker caused him to be 
knocked out of the other dimension. The hammer flew back to its 
wielder as the swordsman was sent flying into a nearby mountain. 
His body smashed into the rock and plowed into it, causing the 
entire mountainside to collapse in on itself.
     Ranma Red appeared beside his brother as he caught the 
returning weapon. The blue-shirted Ranma looked over his brother 
with concern. The magical Masaki was sporting several more cuts as 
well as a few bruises. He was standing a bit unsteadily and was 
breathing hard.
     "Nice shot Blue." Ranma Red gave his brother a smile. It was then 
that they heard a blood-curdling roar that came from the collapsed 
mountain. They both looked in shock as the side that had collapsed 
on top of Gaizera suddenly erupt and then a human-shaped figure 
flew out from the rubble to land directly in front of them.
     Gaizera was a mess. His armor had been cut in several places and 
he also had a few bloody gashes on his chest and legs. The Demon 
Fang was radiating more power than ever before as he suddenly 
charged at his foes. His eyes were glowing with purest crimson as 
he began launching an all-out attack. The sword slashes became even 
faster and more deadly and the Masaki twins were feeling even 
more pain as more Dark World energies seeped into their wounds.
     The twins found themselves once more on the defensive as they 
swerved, ducked and used every evasion tactic they knew to keep 
from being sliced to ribbons. They could feel their energies begin 
to wane and any countermove they made against him would either be 
shrugged off or blocked. Ranma Blue had been firing off lightning, 
fire and cold attacks against him, while his brother was letting loose 
with various mystic attacks. Both twins were pouring out massive 
amounts of ki energy.
     None of this mattered to Gaizera though. He had been 
completely taken over by the Demon Fang and had been reduced to 
a berserker state. The attacks caused massive damage to his body, 
but the evil sword kept him fighting at a relentless pace. The Masaki 
brothers knew that the inevitable was coming. They had been 
holding back, hoping to wear down Gaizera, since they were still 
reluctant to taking the life of a pawn of Sharoka. However, it was 
starting to become apparent that the only way to win this fight was 
to kill him.
     At the castle of Sharoka, the dark ruler watched the scene with a 
satisfied smile. The two demon sisters were at his side and were 
also observing the battle.
     "The Demon Fang has now totally taken control of Gaizera, 
Master Sharoka." Makana said.
     "Yes. He has now become nothing more than a mindless beast. 
He will continue to fight until either he or the twins are destroyed. 
It would be even better if all three were to perish." Katoka added.
     "Yes. I can see that the twins are still reluctant to bring out their 
more powerful techniques. However, as they are gradually growing 
weaker from their injuries and the fact that the Dark World's 
energies are almost about to consume them, they will have no 
choice but to play right into my hands!" Sharoka chuckled as he 
watched the twins lose even more ground to the viscous onslaught.
     {"Red! We've got no choice! He has to… die!"} Ranma Blue was 
feeling much of his strength draining away as the evil energies of 
the realm began to fill his body. The injuries caused by the Demon 
Fang weren't helping either as its energies kept his wounds open. It 
was also spreading its influence through his cells. He couldn't do 
anything about it as he was constantly fending off Gaizera's attacks. 
     {"I… know!"} Ranma Red responded. {"But it's going to take 
something big to take him out! The Demon Fang is powering his 
body up so much that he's not even feeling our normal attacks!"}
     {"Think you can give him a Dragon Slave?"}
     Ranma Red shook his head. {"I'm too hurt to… try. I…"} 
     On Earth, Shampoo shrieked as she saw Gaizera run his sword 
through her husband's right shoulder. Taron and Soren had to hold 
her back as she tried to duplicate Ukyo's earlier stunt of attempting 
to jump through the portal.
     Ranma Red's reflexes had been reduced to the point in which he 
was now unable to dodge effectively. He felt a sickening sensation 
as the blade imbedded itself deep within his shoulder. He began to 
see images of his past life flash before his eyes, but was stopped in 
the middle of the flashbacks as Ranma Blue struck with all his might 
at Gaizera's head. Storm Striker smashed his head clean off while 
the body lurched backward, releasing its grip on the Demon Fang. 
The top of the decapitated corpse erupted in a fountain of blood and 
gore as its limbs flailed about. It began stumbling backward toward a 
massive boulder.
     {"Sorry Bro, but there's no time to be gentle!"} Ranma Blue held 
onto his sibling with one arm around Ranma Red's shoulders, while 
dropping Storm Striker to the ground. He then grasped the hilt of 
the Demon Fang and gave a mighty pull, knowing that the longer it 
stayed inside his brother's body, the faster its energies would 
corrupt him. 
     Ranma Red screamed out again as the weapon was pulled out of 
his shoulder. As the entire blade was extracted, Ranma Blue began 
infusing some of his own ki energies into his sibling to ease the 
pain and prevent him from going into shock. He looked over his 
own shoulder and saw that Gaizera's headless body was still coming 
after them.
     "Have a dose of your own medicine!" Ranma Blue threw the blade 
point first at the walking corpse. The Demon Fang plowed into its 
gut and drove it back, pinning it against the boulder behind it. Then 
suddenly, the body stopped flailing about as its arms slowly reached 
for the hilt.
     Ranma Blue couldn't believe what he was seeing. The head of 
Gaizera was more than a dozen feet away, and yet his body was still 
intent on killing the both of them! Looking down to where the head 
was Ranma Blue's eyes widened as he saw the Gaizera's eyes turn to 
look at him. He saw that they were no longer the solid red as before, 
but were normal and had pupils. The mouth then began moving and a 
faint whisper, Gaizera pleaded with him.
     "Please… end it now… please."
     Ranma considered the decapitated head and then looked back at 
the body. The headless corpse had just gripped the hilt of the evil 
sword and was in the process of pulling it out. He then looked down 
at his brother who was just barely conscious. He knew that he was in 
no condition to help him now and that body would keep on 
attacking, despite the fact that it was now without a head. Ranma 
Blue knew that he would have to totally obliterate the body and the 
Demon Fang in order for them to survive. Placing Ranma Red 
gently down on the ground, the elemental Masaki brother took a 
stance and began focusing his remaining ki. He was far too weak to 
hold Storm Striker as he felt the Dark World energies beginning to 
overwhelm him. This would be his one and only chance.
On Earth…
     "What's Ran-chan doing?"
     The portal displayed the image of Ranma Blue standing with his 
feet slightly spread apart and his arms raised above his head. His 
hands were open and their palms were facing upward.
     "Oh my!"
     Soren nodded to his brother. They knew what was going on.
In Sharoka's castle.
     "Ah yes. That will do quite nicely!"
     Ranma Blue closed his eyes in concentration as he slowly 
controlled his rate of breath. 
     <The sky, the seas, and all the living things who believe in the 
light. Lend me a little of your strength. Please!>
     Ranma Blue's technique began seeking out life energies from all 
the living things in the Dark World. The elemental twin was soon 
surrounded by tiny pinpricks of light. The withered plants and trees. 
The thousands of humans who had been freed from Barada's tyranny. 
The animals and strange creatures of the realm. All of which that 
still wanted to see the end of the darkness lent a bit of their 
energies. It wasn't long before a column of light surrounded him.
     <Good. The energy is being gathered. It won't be long now.>
     The power that Ranma Blue gathered became a white aura that 
enveloped his battered and cut body. Soon, it became even more 
focused as he concentrated it into his right arm. He brought down 
both arms and held up the one that had the power condensed within 
it. His brow furrowed as he began shaping the power into a sphere. 
The light crackled and suddenly, a blue-white orb formed and 
floated above his open palm. Ranma Blue turned toward the 
headless corpse, which had just pulled the Demon Fang free and was 
now charging at him.
     Rearing his arm back, Ranma Blue took one final look at his 
brother and released his attack.
     The huge ball of energy flew straight toward Gaizera's body. The 
corpse held up the Demon Fang to block it, but that move proved to 
be its last. The Spirit Bomb's main purpose was to destroy evil 
energies. The Demon Fang resisted for a moment, then exploded 
into fragments as the overwhelming power within the attack was 
absorbed into the body. Gaizera's body began to glow with an eerie 
blue-white light as it tried to contain the raw power of the Spirit 
Bomb, but it couldn't. It twitched and went through a fit of spasms as 
the energies within it began building.
     Finding a strength that he didn't know that he had, Ranma Blue 
swept up his brother and their weapons and began flying off from 
the immediate area. It was then that Gaizera's body went up like an 
atom bomb. The energies that had been bottled up erupted outward, 
causing the body to erupt like a blood-filled balloon. A gigantic 
geyser of energy was released which lit up the skies and sent 
massive shockwaves in all directions, causing avalanches and 
earthquakes. Energy went pouring out and the resulting backlash 
knocked Ranma Blue and his brother out of the air and sent them 
crashing down into a nearby plateau. It was only by sheer luck that 
the elemental Masaki managed to twist his body to cushion his 
brother's impact. 
     When all the energy released from Gaizera's demise began to 
subside, Ranma Blue moaned in pain. He painfully raised himself to 
a sitting position while cradling his sibling in his arms. He quickly 
checked for a pulse and smiled in relief as he found a faint heart 
beat. As the light of the explosion died down, Ranma Blue sighed as 
he gave a tired expression to the sky. It was then that he saw 
something suddenly appear above them and fall toward them. The 
object was shaped like a small disk and seemed to be made of silver. 
When it landed on the ground, it made a dull thud and that was when 
Ranma Blue got a good look at it.
     It was another medallion, this time with the picture of the Demon 
Fang engraved on it. The appearance of the medallion signified that 
the twins had won the second trial. As Ranma reached over to take 
the medallion, thereby transporting him and his brother to the Earth 
realm, his thoughts went back to the poor soul that they had fought.
     <Gaizera, I hope that you have found that peace that you wanted.>
The Kami Plane near the Realm of Oblivion…
     Gaizera was happy as his spirit began to drift away toward the 
infinite reaches of the Kami plane.
     <I'm free! I'm finally free! Thank you Chosen Twins! Thank 
     However, this feeling of joy was not to last as something 
emerged from the vortex that led to the Realm of Oblivion. The 
wraith turned and its expression became one of horror as it 
recognized the figure.
     Sharoka gave the ghost of Gaizera an evil grin as he gestured to 
the glowing orb that floated beside him. "Did you really think that 
you could escape from my control that easily Gaizera?"
     "I am no longer your slave Sharoka!" The ghost hissed. "The 
Demon Fang has been destroyed! My defeat has earned the Chosen 
Twins another victory and soon, they will be the ones who will 
cause your downfall!"
     "While the Demon Fang has been destroyed, that does not mean 
that I no longer have any use for you Gaizera. In fact, your very soul 
is what I truly wanted."
     "I wanted you to die. You see, I was getting rather annoyed at 
your constant whining to end your life, so I arranged it for you to 
have your wish. That does not mean that your service to me would 
also end. Far from it. Your very essence represents a key element in 
my plans. Now, I shall have your soul!"
     "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" The wraith shrieked as it tried 
to escape, but Sharoka merely waved a hand and the orb began 
glowing brighter. An unseen force began sucking the ghost's form 
like an air vent taking in smoke. The spirit of Gaizera was taken into 
the orb and vanished beneath the surface.
     Sharoka gave off a quiet chuckle as he and the orb disappeared.
To be continued…
Author's Notes
     So ends the tragic story of Gaizera. I guess that when it came 
right down to it, the Ranma twins had to do what they didn't want to 
do. They had to kill in order to win. This is probably one of the 
hardest decision that they had to make so far and things are only 
going to get worse from here on. This series has been my most 
dramatic and emotionally challenging project that I have ever 
undertaken and it's almost done. I am very glad that it has sparked a 
lot of responses and I intend to do my best as I finish it up. Two 
trials down, three to go. Stay tuned.