Disclaimer: Don’t own em, never have, never will, end of story…
Ranma ½ and Ah! Megami-Sama!
The Truth About Kasumi
Falling, always falling. It seems like all he ever did was fall ever downwards. Whether figuratively speaking or not, he was always falling. It was dark, all so dark. He was aware…of images, in his mind’s eye as he fell. Images of things he had done. Oddly enough, none of them were of the positive and good things he had done. He only saw the bad things. Were there even any good things he had done? Then he saw every time he had ever hurt those he loved. This hurt the most. He willed it all to go away, to leave him alone. But it wouldn’t. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he felt a solid surface under his feet. More than that, he could actually feel something. That weightless, detached state he had been in seemed to have gone, and he could finally focus his senses, his mind. He was suddenly aware of a person, clinging to his chest and looked down into the trembling face of Kasumi Tendo. The pain in her green eyes cut him to the soul. She looked so lost. He was vaguely aware of the others appearing for lack of a better word, beside him, but chose to ignore them in favor of listening to what Kasumi seemed to be mumbling.
“Not real…” She whispered.
“I don’t exist….” He then noticed that the others also looked quite shaken. Taking a quick survey of his surroundings, he found that the scenery really wasn’t what one would expect Hell to look like. There was no roaring flames, or pitchfork waving red things. Rather, it resembled the Antarctic. A frozen wasteland seemingly devoid of life of any kind. Yet he wasn’t cold, that was the odd thing. There wasn’t even any wind. The sky though, the sky was a sickening blood red color with white clouds flowing by at much faster speeds than he was used to. In the distance, he thought he could make out lights, as if belonging to a great city, and even further in the horizon was a massive monolithic structure that had a large…hole in it he supposed. That was what it looked like anyway. Shrugging, he turned to the others when he heard Akane speaking to him
“Ranma… where are we? And why…” She hugged herself as if chilly and shivered slightly.
“Why did I see those things before…?” He smiled somewhat sadly.
“You too huh?” She nodded, as did the others. He gently set down Kasumi and steadied her, as she seemed to almost collapse without the support, like a puppet with its strings cut. She leaned on him and he felt her shiver as well.
“This place, feels so wrong…” She said quietly.
“Everything, everything is wrong…” He nodded and held her by the shoulders, as he looked her in the eye.
“Listen, we’re going to get out of here as soon as we find Brahm, okay?” She nodded, and he could swear he saw “her” again I those eyes, but it must have been his imagination. He released her slowly and turned to the other members of their little motley crew.
“Okay, let’s get moving, I’ll take point, Ryoga, you guard our backs. Pop, you and Mr. Tendo should stay close to the girls just in case… I don’t know what’s out there, but we’d better be careful just in case.” They nodded, and surprisingly, Akane did not make any sort of comment about being a martial artist too, and not needing protection. Ranma decided that the best path to take would be to head for the lights, and so he lead them in that direction, he just hoped he would be strong enough when the time came… Shaking his head to banish these negative thoughts, he trudged through the snow, which was not even cold, and tried to ignore the crimson sky. After about 20 minutes of walking, they found themselves confronted by a group of blonde-haired individuals with menacing expressions on their faces. One of them, obviously the leader, stepped forward and snarled at Ranma, who glared back defiantly.
“What are humans doing here? And why does one of them seem so different…” He walked up to Kasumi, who was staying close to Ranma, and stared at her for a moment. Before gasping and taking a step back from her.
“You, have the taint of the Holy on you! But how! Only a Goddess could…” He didn’t get much farther as Ranma had slammed a fist into the Demon’s head, sending him on a one-way trip to the ground. Ranma stepped protectively in front of Kasumi.
“Go near her again and I won’t be so merciful buddy…” The Demon snarled again and got to his feet. He motioned to his cohorts, and they surrounded the small group. Ranma’s eyes darted back and forth, watching for any movement at all. He had his hands up and was in a defensive stance, as were the other martial artists in the group. There were five demons, but they didn’t look too tough, they didn’t reek of malignance like Brahm, in fact if Ranma had to hazard a guess, they were probably about as tough as that Krin guy he had fought before, maybe even weaker. But they were still dangerous, weak Demons or not, they were still Demons.
“You’ll pay for that human! I’ll enjoy killing you slowly.” The lead Demon growled while Ranma simply regarded him coolly.
“That is if you can beat me buddy…” The Demon almost laughed.
“Ha! Do you honestly thing you, a mere human, can defeat a Demon Third Class like me?” Ranma smirked slightly.
“Man, don’t you guys ever shut up with that bull. I don’t care if you’re special class, tenth license, Prom King, lord of evil, valedictorian or whatever the hell else you say, I’m still gonna beat you so bad you’ll be crying like a baby, blondie!” The Demon roared, and leapt towards Ranma, who smirked and met him head on. Slapping aside a clumsy attempt at a grab, Ranma smashed a fist into the Demon’s gut at lightning speeds, causing the blond to gasp in both pain, and surprise at actually feeling an attack from a human. Ranma spun and delivered a powerful spinning kick, gift-wrapped, to the Demon’s temple area, flooring the formerly cocky Demon. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that Ryoga was fighting another one, while his Father fought one, and Soun and Akane cooperated against two of them. Kasumi and Nabiki had slipped to the side and were trying to remain unnoticed. Of course, he knew they were in trouble unless he could go and help, so he decided to finish this quickly.
“Sorry I can’t stay and chat, but I really have to get moving blondie, so without further ado, I’m going to end this.” Ranma said as he dropped into a ready position, and charged his ki into his palms. The Demon had time to wonder what was going on before he heard a cry of “Mouko Takabisha,” and felt darkness claim him. Ranma noted that the Demon was still alive, but decided he would finish him later after he had helped the others. He immediately leapt towards one of the Demons fighting Akane, who was about to lunge at her. Angling his body just right, Ranma executed a variation of the same attack he had used to defeat Pantyhose Taro the first time. He felt his foot slam into the Demon’s head and went with the momentum, driving him into the ground. He wasn’t getting back up anytime soon, if at all. Flipping off, Ranma landed in front of Soun, and caught a potent looking punch from his adversary.
“These guys must be pretty weak because they don’t seem to know much magic…” The Demon snarled at him, and he simply grinned and slammed his knee upwards, into his stomach. He realized, absently, that other than the one he had fought first, the others lacked blonde hair, and had yellow eyes and various other features that did not resemble a human like a regular Demon did. They also seemed pretty simple-minded. It occurred to him that perhaps these were the classless Demons that Belldandy had told him about when she explained the basic Demon Hierarchy to him shortly after the fight against Krin. These ones were only really good for brute work and guard duty, she had said, not for assignments on the mortal plane. They also did not qualify for the doublet system, as they were not true Demons. It seemed plausible enough, and would explain why they were pretty easy to beat, at least for him. Kicking the hurt Demon away from him, he noted that Ryoga had finished his off with a Shi Shi Hokodan, and was running to help out his Pop, who had been on the defensive against his opponent. As the Demon got back up, Ranma rushed towards him and kicked him back to the ground just as he finished climbing to his feet with such force that he heard an audible snapping noise that signified that the thing’s neck had broken. They were Demons; he didn’t have to pull his punches like he did against his normal opponents. Evidently, Ryoga felt the same way, as he struck his enemy with enough force to dent the Demon’s skull slightly, and then whipped off some bandannas to shred the lower Youma to bits. Satisfied that they were pretty much done, Ranma turned to confront the Third class he had fought before, only to find him gone. He felt the Demon’s presence behind him, and was just about to turn and defend himself when he heard several sharp objects whizzing through the air.
“Thuk, thuk, thuk, thuk…” He heard the sounds of sharp blades striking flesh and winced slightly as he heard the Demon scream in pain. Turning, he saw a dagger, a shuriken, and two familiar throwing cooking utensils buried deep into the Third Class’s chest area. The Demon stared stupidly at his wounds for a moment, before a large green hued bonbori smashed into his skull, making a cracking noise, and putting the Demon down for the count. Smiling slightly, Ranma turned, and sure enough, standing there were Ukyo, Shampoo, Mousse, and Konatsu. He grinned at them.
“Hey, thanks for the help you guys! But how did you get here?” Ukyo smiled in return and walked up to him, slipping some extra throwing spatulas into her bandoleer.
“Well, we were all going to the Dojo, and of course met up once there, and we saw you guys jump into a big hole in the ground…” Shampoo nodded and took over.
“Is true. Airen and others go into evil portal, and Shampoo follow. Shampoo wanted to help Airen…” Ranma nodded in understanding and glanced over at Mousse and Konatsu. He didn’t even have to ask why they followed. It was obvious enough.
“Ranma-san…” Konatsu nodded at him.
“Ranma…” Mousse did the same. Ranma then smiled wider.
“Well regardless, its good to have you guys onboard, we need all the help we can get.” He then stalked over to the barely living Demon Third Class and hoisted him up to face level with one hand.
“Alright blondie, spill, where’s Brahm? How do I get to him?” The blond man smirked weakly.
“Hah…he’ll destroy you utterly human…ha ha ha…” He laughed weakly, and coughed out blood. Ranma glared and shook him slightly.
“Where is he?” He growled as his expression turned murderous. The Demon kept smirking.
“Very well, I’ll tell you…Brahm’s home can be found right outside of the Demon HQ, Nifelhiem…” Ranma blinked.
“You mean those lights?” The Demon nodded and Ranma dropped him to the ground in without a word more.
“Let’s get moving.” The pig-tailed one muttered as he turned to leave. The others nodded and together, they trekked once more into the unknown.
They were getting closer now, and the usual tensions had begun to rise. Ranma had been forced to break up three fights already between the fiancées and he and Mousse had almost come to blows themselves. Mousse had also mistaken Akane for Shampoo, and had tried to grab her, only to be flattened by Ryoga for daring to try and touch Akane. Even Soun and Genma had almost gotten into a fistfight over something in their past. Even he had felt the urge to strangle his Pop for something he had done a while ago. Ranma wasn’t sure what was going on, but it seemed the only one that was immune to it was Kasumi, who had not even batted an eyelash when Nabiki had actually started yelling at her about something in their childhood.
“Stupid Nabiki, always starting trouble, I outta…” Growling and shaking his head furiously, Ranma willed the thoughts away and clutched his head slightly when they wouldn’t cooperate. Akane was fighting with Shampoo again, and Ukyo looked ready to join in, while Mousse, Ryoga, and surprisingly Konatsu were glaring at each other angrily. Ranma cursed as the desire to join in became almost physically overpowering and clenched his fists while shutting his eyes.
“Damn it, what-what’s happening to us…” Suddenly, he felt a soft hand on his shoulder and opened his eyes to see the softly smiling face of Kasumi in front of him.
“Are you alright now Ranma?” She asked in her usual kind tone of voice that made could make even the end of the world sound nice. He noticed that the others had become less agitated as well, and chalked it up to Kasumi. He himself felt a lot better now. It seemed that she had some sort of calming influence on them all. He realized that perhaps the reason they had been acting that way might have been because of Hell. Perhaps it took one’s usual faults: pettiness, anger, and jealousy, and amplified them. That would explain why they wanted to practically kill each other over things that had happened a long time ago, or were insignificant. Nodding at Kasumi, he tried to smile for her benefit, though it was slightly strained.
“Yeah, I’m okay now, thanks Kasumi.” She nodded and he turned to the others, and explained his theory to them.
“That would explain why we were all being so petty, or at least more so than usual anyway…” Ryoga said as he listened to Ranma’s words. Nabiki smirked slightly.
“Heh, Ranma came up with something intelligent and logical, no wonder this place has so much snow.” Ranma glared slightly at her.
“Ha ha, funny Nabiki, you’re a riot as always…” He muttered as she just smirked more prominently. Ranma ignored her and heard Genma speak.
“In any case, we should probably keep moving, the sooner we get out of here, the better…” He glanced around uneasily while saying this. Ranma sighed and nodded.
“Yeah, you’re right Pop, let’s get going you guys.” He said as he addressed the others, who nodded at him in agreement. He noted that the lights were closer now, and that he could definitely make out some sort of city. It was all black, and had jutting spires and structures that resembled spikes. As they marched onwards, he noticed that as it became more visible, it became more horrifying. Large, imposing gargoyles lined the walls, and he noticed that the screaming faces of people had been carved into the walls. It was disturbing to say the least. They finally reached the outside, and Ranma saw a large black structure sitting on the outside of Nifelhiem. It resembled the other building, but it’s structure looked like frozen flames. It was shaped like fire, and had horrifying shapes of burning people sticking out of its walls, expressions of pure, eternal pain etched onto their stone faces. Ranma noted that Kasumi was clinging lightly to him fear, and that the other girls were too busy being horrified to get jealous. Pushing down the twinge of fear he felt, Ranma walked up to the massive double doors in front, and was startled to find that they opened easily with one light push. Grimacing, he turned to the others.
“He’s expecting us, be on your guard people.” They nodded, some fearfully, and he turned back to the yawning blackness that loomed in front of him. Steeling himself, and letting his expression, as well as his soul, become cold as ice, he walked inside.
“Mommy, can we go now?” A young Ranma whined as he watched his Mother hum to herself while sewing something. She smiled bemusedly at him.
“Now Ranma, we can go to the toy store later, right now I want to see if this fits you…” She held up what she had been working on for the past few days proudly. It was white, little Ranma noticed, and looked like that thing his Dad had worn a bunch of times. Ranma racked his brain, his small childish face twisted in deep concentration, trying to remember what that thing had been called. His Mother smiled and undressed him and put the outfit on.
“There, it’s perfect!” She cried, clasping her hands together and smiling at her pride and joy. The gi fit him quite well actually, and he looked so cute in it. It seemed to suit him nicely actually. Just then, Genma walked into the room, and saw his five-year old son clothed in a gi. Grinning, he ran over and examined Ranma.
“Why, the boy was born to wear it! It looks great Nodoka!” He exclaimed while Ranma tugged slightly on one of the sleeves.
“Yes, it certainly does suit him. My little manly man…” She cooed at him.
“The boy’s a born martial artist, and someday, he’ll be the greatest of them all!” Genma cried as the two parents looked down at their son, proud expressions on their faces.
One year later, Ranma and Genma set off on that fateful training trip. After bidding his Wife farewell, the heavyset man took his son out of the Tokyo area where they lived, and headed to a nearby forest, where they would camp for the night. Ranma had been constantly in tears since they left the house, and he wanted nothing more than to go back to his Mother. Genma growled as the boy refused to stop crying. Finally, he turned and backhanded Ranma across the face. Sending the boy to the ground, and starting a fresh bout of tears.
“Shut up boy! Stop crying! Only little girls cry! You’re a man! Now start acting like it! Or so help me, I’ll beat you until you stop!” Genma roared as Ranma stared up at him in fear.
“But-but I miss Mom…” Ranma said quietly. Genma growled.
“You can’t ever see your Mother again! Not unless you become the greatest Martial Artist in the world! Understand boy?” Ranma gaped for a few moments, before he wiped his eyes and stood up; ignoring the pain his Father’s blow had just caused him.
“Yes, I understand…”
Ranma blinked as he saw these images play out in front of him. He was in some sort of endless black void, just like the one he had been in when entering Hell.
“But why am I seeing this?” He wondered.
“Why these memories?” He sighed and blew out a breath of air.
“That’s why I always have to be the best…” He whispered.
“That’s why I can’t ever let myself lose, because if did. If I was ever worse than someone else, then my whole life…” He bowed his head.
“My whole life would be a joke…utterly worthless…All that pain and suffering during the training trip, all of it would be worth nothing if I wasn’t the best…” He lifted his head, and his eyes showed an amount of pain and suffering that he had been harboring inside of himself for a very long time. He noticed that the images of the training trip had faded away, and in their place, was various people he knew. His fiancées, enemies, the people from school, people he hadn’t seen in years, his family, even people like Herb and Saffron stood there, silently staring at him.
“What do you want from me!?” He cried exasperated.
“Why won’t you leave me alone!?” It was his Mother who spoke.
“You’ve failed my son. You are no man, just a weak, pathetic, girl…” He winced with every word, and suddenly found himself in female form. His Father spoke next.
“You’re worse than I am boy! At least I never lead women on, or used my cursed form to win fights, or…”
“Shut up!” Ranma screamed angrily.
“You’re the cause of over half my problems and faults in the first place old man!” Akane smirked.
“There you go again Ranma…Always blaming others for your own shortcomings, never seeing the truth…” She spat angrily.
“You’re one to talk!” Ranma yelled at her as he felt the anger continue to fester in his soul, and old wounds start to open up. Saffron spoke next.
“You killed me boy. You, a mere mortal, slew a God, without remorse. You aren’t even human. You’re a freak. An obscenely overpowered, sex-changing, macho freak!” Ranma closed his eyes tightly and willed them to go away.
“Stop it, please stop…” Was his whispered reply. Nabiki smirked at him as well.
“You know what the funniest part of all is Ranma?” Ranma clutched his ears and tried to block them out, but their voices echoed in his brain anyway. Ryoga picked up where Nabiki left off.
“The funniest part of all Ranma, is that no matter how strong or powerful you become, something as simple as the truth and the words of others can defeat you every time…” Ranma looked up and glared.
“That’s your truth! I may have my faults, but I still try to do what’s right! I even help you Ryoga! Even when you swear to kill me every other day!” Ranma faced them defiantly, that is until he heard the one person speaking that hurt most of all.
“There you go again, deluding yourself like always…” Ranma watched with a sick feeling in his stomach as Kasumi stepped into view, still smiling as always. Even when cutting him to the soul with her words.
“You’re still that scared, frightened little boy your Father dragged away from your Mother, and threw into the pit…” She said in a sweet tone of voice. Ranma slumped and whispered.
“Not you too…” Kasumi continued on unabated.
“Your sins are heavy Ranma. You’re a delinquent, a cross-dresser, a Casanova, a thief, a murderer, you’re constantly stepping on others to get what you want, and worst of all…” Ranma almost started to cry, hearing these things coming from Kasumi’s mouth.
“Please, no, don’t say it…” He yelled desperately. She didn’t even seem to hear him.
“Worst of all, you…killed…Belldandy!” Ranma clenched his eyes shut and this time a few tears did slip by. He clutched his head as if in pain.
“NO!!!!!! I didn’t…It wasn’t my fault…” Kasumi scowled, which of course was a shocking sight.
“Now you won’t even admit to your crimes!? I think Hell is a fitting place for you Ranma!” She yelled. Ranma whimpered and he wished it all away. Then he heard a voice. It wasn’t angry, or hateful. It was sweet, beautiful, and kind. He felt the darkness inside of himself recede when he heard that voice.
“Never give up Ranma…” Ranma’s eyes snapped open, and he stood. With a defiant expression on his face, he stared back at the faces of all the people he had somehow, in one way or another, affected in his life.
“No, I didn’t kill Belldandy. She’s still alive, and I’m going to get her back, and no one, no one is going to stop me!” With that, he launched his fist at the shocked face of Kasumi, and saw the images shatter into a million pieces as it struck. The blackness disappeared, and he found himself in an ornate, gothic chamber, with statues and paintings of people in terrible agony arranged around the room. All of them depicted people being flayed alive. Ranma clenched his fists, absently noticing that he was male again, and whipped his head around, searching for his nemesis.
“Where are you Brahm! I know you’re there! Show yourself!” A deep laughter echoed around the room, and in a puff of smoke, Brahm appeared in front of him, smirking slightly.
“Well well, I am impressed, you managed to not only enter Hell unscathed, but actually got all the way to my sanctum, and conquered the little trap I had set for you. I really didn’t expect you to get this far mortal, though it pleases me that you did.” Ranma growled angrily.
“You caused that illusion! You bastard!” Brahm crossed his arms.
“Yes, it was an illusion, but you know, it did not lie. What you heard and experienced. All of that was real. All of that was the truth. I must say, you are obviously incredibly self-deluded if you managed to get past it without cracking.” Ranma grit his teeth.
“You’re the one who’s deluded! I’m going to make you pay for all you’ve done Brahm!” The Demon First Class smirked again, and snapped his fingers.
“Let’s not be so hasty mortal…” In another puff of smoke, several pyres appeared around the room, and atop them, were the others, his friends and family. Ranma turned back to Brahm and glared with hatred at his foe.
“You son of a bitch…” He whispered. Brahm’s smirk grew wider at his words.
“Ha ha ha, what’s wrong mortal? I thought you were the best?” He snapped his fingers again, and tiny flames began to burn at the bottom of the pyres.
“Defeating me, and saving your friends before they are burned alive should be easy for one such as you. The great Ranma Saotome! The slayer of Saffron!” Ranma glared, and Brahm’s eyes narrowed.
“By the way mortal, if you’re wondering where your precious Goddess is, well, I have her soul right here…” He held up the bottle from before.
“And I have her body somewhere else, but if you can beat me, I will give her to you, no strings attached…” Ranma narrowed his own eyes to slits, and got into a ready stance. This was it, the final battle. And his friend’s lives, as well as the very soul of someone even more special to him, hung in the balance.
“Let’s go…” He whispered.
Author’s Notes: Hoo boy, I’m tired. After Finals, end of the year projects, and a reunion, I need a rest. Anyway, now that it’s summer (finally) I can really start whacking out chapters of this and my other works. As many can relate, school is the number one cause of delays and writer’s block for me. But now that I have a measly 2 months or so off, I hope to get a lot of work done on this and other stories of mine. Okay, it’s almost done, as you can probably tell, this fic is heading towards its conclusion. I hope you liked this chapter, as I tried to put a lot of thought into it, especially some of the emotional reactions. I hope it meets, at least somewhat, with your approval. As for my representation of Hell, well, I just wanted to try something different from the norm. I don’t know how Hell is depicted in the actual AMG manga, but I hope this one wasn’t too bad. And I added Ukyo, Shampoo, Mousse, and Konatsu at the request of a friend, so hopefully that’s alright with you all. Right, I think that’s all, once again I’d like to thank the various other sites that host my work. For links, look back at the previous chapter. Any questions, comments, or whatever? Please, send them to me. Even negative ones are fine, as long as they are at least explained. Nothing more annoying than an unlit flame. Although I will, as always, address negative comments in a future chapter and answer to them to the best of my ability. Oh yeah, and if you’re reading this on Fanfiction.net, please review. I’d appreciate it a lot. Thank you. Until next time then….