Disclaimer: I don’t own this stuff…

 

Ranma ½ and Ah! Megami-Sama!

The Truth About Kasumi

By Gray (Not “Gary”)

(Sorry, little joke you might not get unless you go to the Church of Kasumi and Ranma.)

 

“Let’s go…” Ranma whispered in a hard voice laced with determination. As he faced off against Brahm, the First Class Demon who made even Saffron seem weak in comparison, the only thing going through Ranma’s head was stopping this monster and saving his friends. It didn’t matter that Brahm was an immortal, that he could dispel the most powerful Hiryu Shoten Ha Ranma had ever thrown, or that he was fighting the Demon on his home turf, Hell itself. None of this mattered to the pig-tailed youth. He would save the others, and Belldandy’s soul, even if it killed him. Brahm smirked slightly, and held up a hand, burning with hellfire. Ranma tensed, ready to dodge at a moment’s notice. Brahm’s smirk grew wider, and with lightning speed, he threw the fireball forward, aimed at Ranma’s head. Ranma’s battle-hardened reflexes saved him once more, as he sidestepped the burning projectile, and came up in a defensive stance. The next blast almost hit him, but he managed to duck it, only to flip off of his arms to avoid another. Soon it became a matter of Brahm firing off blaze after blaze of potent fire, and Ranma narrowly avoiding getting crispy-fried by them. Gritting his teeth, Ranma sought an opening, but unfortunately, none came. He was running out of time. His friends were going to die, burned alive by the flames rapidly licking up the sides of the pyres they were tied to. Spinning to the side to dodge another shot, Ranma took a chance, as he was spinning, he charged a low power Mouko Takabisha in his hands, and as he completed the spin, he fired it off at Brahm in one smooth motion. This caught the Demon completely off guard, and he was struck by the ki-blast in the chest, although it didn’t do very much damage. This didn’t matter however, as it gave Ranma the opportunity to use Brahm’s momentary inattention to surge forward and use his favorite close-range attack.

“Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken!” He cried, as his trademark attack was unleashed upon the Demon. After finishing emptying over 700 high-speed, full-strength blows into Brahm’s stomach, Ranma leapt backwards, and landed in a defensive stance. Brahm cursed and shook off the attacks. Ranma grimaced as he realized his attack had little effect on the mighty Demon First Class.

“Guess I might have to use that technique after all…” He thought to himself. Brahm laughed at the serious expression on his face.

“Do you honestly think you can beat me mortal? Do you have even the slightest inkling of how powerful I am? Even if we were fighting on the mortal plane you would die, but I am at my peak here in Hell, and to put it bluntly, you don’t even have a chance!” The blonde man then concentrated for a split second and created a dome of flame to appear around Ranma. The dome then began to shrink. Inside the makeshift flame cage, Ranma gritted his teeth and desperately sought a way to get out. Outside, Brahm laughed again as he watched the fire begin to close around Ranma. He would enjoy watching the annoying youth being flayed alive. His screams would be most satisfying. Just as it looked like the flames would overtake Ranma, a cry echoed forth, and a large tunnel of wind erupted into existence, extinguishing the flames in seconds. Leaving Ranma standing where they had once been, his fist raised in the air in an uppercut position. Lowering his fist, Ranma turned to Brahm with a murderous expression on his face.

“I’m going to end this now Brahm! No more games! No more messing with my head! And no more threatening my friends!” With that said, he concentrated for a moment, and thrust his hands forward.

“Ha!!!” He yelled as ki energy exploded from his palms. But it didn’t stop with just one blast. His hands picked up speed, reaching amaguriken levels in seconds, and soon hundreds of small ki blasts erupted towards Brahm in a machine-gun fashion. Brahm staggered under Ranma’s assault, and gasped as real, honest to goodness pain began to erupt in him. Ranma continued to pour energy into his attack, knowing that he had to put the Demon down quickly, as the flames on the pyres continued to slowly climb higher. He grit his teeth as he felt his large amount of ki begin to dwindle with each passing second of his new attack. Combining the Amaguriken with the Mouko Takabisha had been a good idea, but he knew it was a gamble. Simply because of all the energy it drained. Still, it looked like Brahm was weakening, and so he poured it on, hoping for a miracle.

“I won’t lose!” He swore angrily to himself as he continued to pump out more energy.

 

Brahm cursed as he continued to feel the impudent mortal’s blasts strike his by now pained body. The fact that a mortal could generate this much power was mind-boggling. It was unlike anything he had ever encountered.

“Why hasn’t he tired out yet? Where is he getting all of this power from?” The Demon wondered as he was buffeted by explosive ki blasts. Finally, after what seemed like ages, the assault began to lessen, until finally, it was over. Brahm smirked to himself, and stood.

 

“C’mon damn it! Don’t stop now!” Ranma thought to himself as he willed his body to hold on and give him more strength. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as his tired body finally gave out, and he felt the enormous amount of drain an attack like the one he had just executed inflicted. He watched with gritted teeth as the Demon stood to his full height and walked over towards him, smirking all the way. After getting to about arm’s length with him, Brahm raised his leg, and with stunning speed, smashed it upside Ranma’s head, sending the pig-tailed boy sprawling onto the ground. Shaking his head, Ranma managed to get onto one knee and glared up at the towering Demon who stood over him. Brahm laughed at Ranma’s face, and walked closer.

“So, do you finally realize the folly of trying to defeat me mortal? I am not some weakling dragon half-breed prince, or some stupid low-level demigod with bad taste in hairstyle. I am a Demon First Class, First Category, Unlimited. In other words, I am your better!” Ranma bowed his head, obscuring his face from view, though Brahm could clearly see his fists clenching. Then, surprisingly, the pig-tailed one spoke.

“Funny, that’s exactly what they all said too…” He said in an almost conversational tone, before suddenly propelling himself forward, slamming his head into Brahm’s stomach with enough force to shatter stone with ease. Brahm felt his breath leave him, and his face twisted in fury. After completing the move, Ranma back-stepped, and got into a stance, ready for whatever Brahm pulled. The Demon growled, deep in his throat, and for just a second, Ranma could have sworn he saw…something, instead of a blonde man. Something truly monstrous and evil looking. But it was gone, and standing before him once again was Brahm, his most hated enemy ever. Brahm suddenly surged forward, and before Ranma knew what hit him, he was being picked up by the head, and slammed repeatedly, face first, into the ground, with bone-shattering force.

“Show me the power! Show me the power of humanity that Belldandy believed so strongly in! Show me mortal! Show me why she believed in you!” Ranma just groaned in pain, and Brahm’s face twisted even more in anger.

“You pathetic little gnat! I’m going to tear you apart with my bare hands, and feed your remains to the scavengers!” He picked Ranma up again and then slammed him back down.

“I’ll slowly flay your skin from your body until it’s a puddle on the ground!” Another head-slam.

“I’ll crush your bones to dust while you watch!” Yet another face-smash.

“Your screams will echo across Hell for all eternity! And I will listen to them with glee!”

 

Meanwhile, Ranma’s friends watched, as he was repeatedly smashed into the ground. Akane, Ukyo, Kasumi, and even Shampoo and Nabiki were in tears from all the abuse he was being subjected to, while the men simply winced in sympathy with each impact, and felt their hopes plummet. If Ranma couldn’t beat this guy, what hope would they have? Not to mention the fact that the hungry flames were still making slow progress up the tall pyres they were all tied to. For Kasumi, the sight of Ranma getting mutilated by the Demon triggered a pain in her so deep and hurtful that she almost felt every blow inflicted on him.

“Ranma…don’t die!” She sobbed.

 

Brahm, growing tired of smashing the mortal’s face in, lifted him up and held him in a crushing grip by the throat. Ranma’s face was surprisingly still intact, although blood oozed from a nasty wound on his forehead. His eyes were half-open, and focused on Brahm with hate in their depths. Brahm sneered and began to apply more pressure.

“So how does it feel mortal? To know that you failed? That not only will you die, but your loved ones as well? That because of your inadequacy, the fires of Hell will consume them all! The only thing you’ve ever been able to do well is fight, and you can’t even use that to save them! You can’t even save a small group of people! You’re worthless! Trash! Garbage!” Brahm then leaned closer to Ranma’s face, and smirked slightly.

“And…your Goddess will have the most terrible fate of all, as I imprison her soul in Hell for all eternity!” Brahm then laughed, loudly and snidely, right in Ranma’s face. He didn’t notice Ranma’s expression turning murderous. The youth’s blue eyes narrowed to slits, and the anger on his face grew and grew with each passing second. Brahm continued to smirk at Ranma cruelly.

“Or perhaps…I might…use her for “other” purposes…” Brahm said in a smug voice. Then, Ranma snapped.

“NEVER!!!!” Ranma roared as his aura exploded around him and blew Brahm away from him. So intense was the manifestation of the pig-tailed boy’s anger and strength, that power began to roll off of him in waves. Brahm barely managed to right himself before Ranma was upon him. With speed that shot past inhuman, and strength to match, the pigtailed one unleashed hundreds upon hundreds of ki-powered punches and strikes that caused the air to become displaced from around them. Roaring in fury from all the punishment his body was taking, Brahm exuded his own aura, made entirely of flame and demonic power. The two auras, one sky blue, the other blood red, clashed in a massive display of power as the two combatants exchanged attacks that created shockwaves from the sheer force generated in their wake. Truly, it seemed that for once, Ranma wasn’t holding back. The other members of Nerima could only watch in awe as a display of fighting prowess was demonstrated that they doubted even Happousai or Cologne could hope to match. Of course, the only reason Ranma was even holding his own was because, simply put, he was by far the better fighter in this battle. Brahm, for all his incredible unholy power and strength, barely knew how to throw a punch or kick effectively, while Ranma was a flowing, spinning, whirlwind of martial arts maneuvers that defied description. The living embodiment of the martial arts. Ranma wasn’t even bothering to call out attacks any more. Simply intermixing amagurikens with ki blasts, miniature Hiryu Shoten Ha’s and even Saotome forbidden attacks. Dozens of wounds were ripped into Brahm’s body, but he seemed to barely feel them, instead simply taking the hits and retaliating with his own more powerful attacks powered by magic and his own demonic rage. Then, like a candle flame, Ranma’s aura began to flicker, and slowly dwindle in its brightness, as he started to lose strength. The only thing keeping him going this far was his determination and unwillingness to let anything happen to those he cared for. But it simply wasn’t enough. Brahm smirked cruelly as he slammed his fist into Ranma’s solar plexus, driving the wind from him, and then driving a punishing double-handed hammer blow into the back of Ranma’s neck with crushing force. Ranma was slammed into the ground from the sheer power, and as he struggled to get up, Brahm delivered a brutal kick to his ribs, causing him to cry out in pain. Then with an almost gleeful expression on his face, Brahm pointed a finger at Ranma and the youth erupted in flames. Everyone watching gasped at the sight and Kasumi sobbed even louder than the other girls, as they all heard Ranma’s terrible screams of agony. Brahm simply laughed and watched with delight as his nemesis slowly burned to death.

“Oh yes, now this is what I call fun!”

 

Pain…His whole world was pain. Every fiber of his body screamed in endless soul rending pain as he was flayed alive with unholy fire. Even a body as conditioned and strong as his could not withstand the fires of Hell for long, nor the agony that they entailed. As he lay there, having retreated into his mind to try and avoid the pain, the same damned images and voices from his dream assailed him. Coward, weak, pathetic, girly, cross-dresser, transsexual, baka, jock, knave, fiend, pervert… These were the words that they cried as he lay there in pain. So much pain. Though only milliseconds passed in the real world, within his mind, days seemed to go by. All with the same thing. The pain, and the voices. But one voice rang most clearly in the tortured mind of Ranma Saotome. The voice of Kasumi Tendo, the caretaker, the kind one, the angel… her sweet voice echoed the loudest of all in his mind. It said only one thing…

“Failure…” Yes, it called him a failure, she called him a failure. Her kind smile held even as she denounced him. And he believed her. After all, hadn’t he failed? Hadn’t he lost the fight and doomed his friends, the ones he cared for, to eternal suffering within Hell itself? Yes he had, and as much pain as he was in, both physically, mentally, and emotionally, he knew it was his only way to atone. So he embraced the pain, and screamed even louder.

 

Outside, Brahm laughed as he watched Ranma burn. Purposely making it as slow as possible to prolong his suffering. Meanwhile, the flames on the pyres were almost upon their intended victims, although the victims could only watch their one last hope slowly burn to death, a taste of what they would soon experience. Kasumi Tendo wept inside and out as she watched him die right in front of her eyes. If only there was something she could do. But what? Upon entering Hell, she had been shown the truth. That she was not even real. The form a Goddess took to fulfill a wish. All her memories, all her hopes and dreams, they were all a lie. They were all fake. Just like her. She bowed her head sadly as tears streamed down her face. Then she heard Ranma’s most tortured scream yet, and something within her snapped. A feeling, deep inside her rose up. She felt another presence within herself. One that told her to not give in. Lifting her head, Kasumi watched Ranma’s burning body, and desperately tried to give him strength. To somehow give him hope. For she somehow sensed that Ranma had given up. That he no longer wanted to live. She could not, would not allow that. She no longer cared that she was fake, an illusion, all she cared about was helping him. Saving him. Because she knew, she knew that in spite of everything else, her feelings for him were not fake. They weren’t an illusion. She cared for, no, loved Ranma Saotome, and right now, he needed her help. And she would be damned if she didn’t give it to him now.

“Ranma…”

 

“Ranma…” He blinked as Kasumi said something new. Or did she? The image of her in front of him continued to call him a failure, yet he heard her voice in another part of him as well.

“Ranma…please, listen to me…” He blinked, and not knowing why, did as this other Kasumi’s voice asked.

“You’re not a failure, you’re not a coward, or a pervert, or anything like that. You’re a good person, an honorable person. Someone who fights for what is right with all his strength. You have a good heart, and a kind soul. And don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Do you understand Ranma?” He slowly nodded, feeling some of the darkness within him lift. The other voices, they seemed quieter now, almost like they were slowly getting farther away. Only the good voice remained. The beautiful one. And then he saw her. Belldandy, the Goddess of the present stood before him, yet she kept blurring and becoming Kasumi momentarily, before shifting back to herself.

“Ranma, you must fight it! Fight Brahm’s evil! Don’t let him win! Please! We’re all counting on you!” She paused, and said slightly more quietly.

“I’m counting on you…” He felt a pulsing inside himself. A wall seemed to go down, and a bright light appeared in his mind’s eye. He reached out to touch it, and Belldandy came closer to him. She looked straight into his eyes, and kissed him briefly on the lips. She then stepped back, with a determined look in her beautiful eyes that kept changing from blue to green and back again.

“Ranma…don’t give up…” And with that, he touched the light, and everything faded away…

 

“Die mortal! Roast in pain and agony!” Brahm laughed as he enjoyed the barbecue he had created.

“It seems that Ranma Saotome is not so great after all! The power of humanity is a joke!” He mocked with another laugh. Then, something happened. Ranma’s body stopped moving, and he became very still. Just as Brahm was about to call him dead, Ranma began to glow softly. It was faint, but it seemed to draw the eye like nothing else could. Unlike his previous blue aura, the one surrounding his body now was golden, with specks of purest white mixed in. Also unlike his previous one, which was large and raging in its intensity. This aura was calm and flowed around him like a gentle river. It stayed close to his body, merely outlining it, not surrounding it like the other one, and it healed his wounds. Making blackened skin healthy and pink again, and sealing up cuts and slashes that Brahm had caused. Bruises and blisters were healed, and soon the flames surrounding Ranma died out. He lay there for about a moment, still unmoving, with the aura still clinging to him and flowing along his body silently. Then, he got to his feet, and with his eyes closed apparently in concentration, let the aura flow outwards in small slivers. Slivers that, as they passed Brahm, chilled him with their frigidness.

“Cold as ice!” The Demon thought to himself. He watched in further astonishment as they made their way over to the pyres, and actually extinguished the flames that had almost reached the feet of the people tied to them. With that done, the aura retreated back to Ranma and once again outlined his body like a second skin of sorts, before returning to the familiar blue color it was before. Everyone then watched as Ranma’s eyes slowly opened. They were as blue as always, but something else shone in them now. It was hard to describe, but it looked like a cool mist of sorts. A frigidness that seemed to freeze all it encountered in its gaze. And right now, it was locked onto Brahm. The Demon shivered slightly, unsure why as he stared into those depths. Then Ranma spoke. His voice almost dead.

“I will end this now Brahm…It’s time I made you pay for your crimes…” He then got into a combat stance that emphasized speed, though Brahm knew nothing of this, only that this foolish mortal was causing him more trouble than any Godling he had ever met.

“How did he create this new aura? What is giving him all this power? How could he…Of course!” Brahm smirked slightly as he figured it out. He pointed an accusing finger at Ranma, who regarded him coolly.

“She’s helping you! That’s it isn’t it! The Goddess is aiding you! Belldandy is giving you this power!” He cried with an angry scowl on his face signifying his displeasure at this turn of events. Ranma smirked, barely.

“Heh, you’re half-right…” Ranma held up a hand and in it energy began to collect. Energy that seemed to make the very space it inhabited frigid as ice. Brahm’s eyes widened in surprise. Ranma nodded at his unspoken question.

“That’s right…it’s the soul of ice…taken to the next level!” Ranma then made a sweeping motion with his hand, and the Demon barely leapt back to avoid a freezing blast of compressed air from hitting him. Snarling, Brahm summoned another fireball and raised his hand in a throwing position. Ranma smirked faintly and did the same, though his hand swirled with cold ki. The two silently watched each other for a moment, before Brahm roared and threw. Ranma silently did the same. The two energies collided between them and it was unclear which would overwhelm the other, but then they simply cancelled each other out. Growling in frustration, Brahm tossed several more gouts of flame, all of which Ranma stopped with his icy ki blasts.

“What did you mean earlier when you said I was half-right about the Goddess helping you mortal?” Brahm asked as he started to summon a more potent method of attack.

“I meant that Belldandy isn’t supplying me with this power, she merely opened the door within me to use it…” Ranma answered back calmly as he also began to charge up his ki, letting his tightly focused aura out a little more as he collected energy from his body. The build up of energies was causing a rather impressive light show, and the spectators could only watch in awe. Kasumi had her head slumped slightly, and watched the battle wearily, feeling very tired since establishing that link with Ranma. She blinked as she thought that. It was the Goddess Belldandy who established the link wasn’t it? She didn’t… She was interrupted from her thoughts as she noticed that Ranma and Brahm had finished building up their energies and were facing each other solemnly. It seemed that the battle had moved onto the next level, as both opponents were silent now. They regarded each other calmly, not a hint of motion from either. Although Brahm’s eyes were burning with flame, and Ranma’s were icy blue. Then, like an explosion, Brahm roared and fired off the largest blast of flame anyone had ever seen. It screamed along the ground towards Ranma with incredible speed, and waiting until the last possible instant, the young martial artist leapt up into the air and aimed a finger at Brahm’s surprised form.

“Gotta get this just right…” Ranma thought to himself as he concentrated his collected cold ki into that single finger.

“Now!” He mentally screamed as he fired it all off in one thin burst that shot through the air, freezing it as it went. The small but incredibly cold sliver of ki hit Brahm right in the face. Screaming in pain as the numbing, well below zero temperature worked its way into his brain and very nearly caused him to faint, Brahm desperately clawed at his face as Ranma flipped and landed right in front of him, before pulling his hands back and charging more of his collected ki into his palms.

“Now for the coup’ de’ grace!” Ranma thought as he thrust his hands forward and unloaded every ounce of the ki he collected beforehand at point-blank range into the Demon. The results were devastating for Brahm, who felt like he was being torn apart by the biting frost. He screamed and screamed as the numbing cold froze him to the core. For a Demon who drew his power primarily from flame, this was the worst kind of attack. Ranma regarded him without a trace of mercy. He was beyond that now. The Demon could die for all he cared, in fact, he wished he did. Ranma was sick and tired of holding back, of letting people get away with things they shouldn’t. Brahm had threatened all those that he loved, and that would not be tolerated. Finally Brahm collapsed, and Ranma let out a breath of relief, as it seemed to all be over. He was just about to let down his aura and help the others when he detected movement from the form of Brahm. A massive flame aura erupted around Brahm’s body and burned away the ice covering him almost instantly. The Demon turned murderous eyes to Ranma and held up a hand again. However instead of flame appearing as before, a mist appeared, one in which he threw in Ranma’s face, causing him to cough and close his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, they widened in shock. Standing before him was the still forms of Kasumi Tendo, and The Goddess Belldandy. Both had their eyes closed, and their heads bowed. Brahm stood behind them with a subtle smirk on his face, normally straight blonde hair in disarray from all the fighting.

“Alright mortal, you win, I’ll give you what you want. However, I have a new rule I want to add to our little game…” Brahm said as he crossed his arms. Ranma clenched a fist.

“What are you up to Brahm?” Ranma questioned as he watched the Demon warily. Brahm shook his head.

“No tricks mortal…I merely want a choice from you…” He pointed to both women in turn.

“Pick one…and only one…you must decide which one you want…Kasumi Tendo, or the Goddess Belldandy…The other must remain here…” Ranma clenched his fists angrily.

“How can I possibly make that sort of decision, and besides…” Ki filtered out of his eyes menacingly.

“You’re in no position to make any sort of demand Brahm!” The Demon laughed lightly at that, and pointed a finger which burned with flame at Kasumi, who was unconscious and tied to the pillar, while he held up the bottle containing Belldandy’s soul in his other.

“Are you sure about that mortal?” He asked with a smirk, although his power was quite low, he could still kill both of them with ease. Ranma cursed and grew slightly suspicious.

“I thought Belldandy’s soul was in that bottle!” He didn’t trust the Demon at all. Brahm smiled, and it was not a nice smile. He held up the bottle in question higher, and the golden mist still swirled within it.

“You mean this? Well, her soul is imprisoned within this bottle, and Kasumi Tendo’s body is still tied to the pyre over there.” Ranma blinked and looked over to Kasumi’s pyre, and sure enough, she was tied to it, though she was unconscious.

“Then how…” He began, only to be cut off by Brahm.

“How is it that they are both here as well? Simple, these are representations of them, not the genuine articles, however if you do not make a decision then I will kill them both!” Ranma absorbed that information and regarded Brahm with no small amount of fury.

“You son of a…” Brahm cut him off again however.

“Enough! Make your choice before I grow impatient!” The Demon said with a dangerous edge in his low voice. Ranma’s head whipped back and forth between the two as he desperately tried to think of what to do. Which should he choose? Which did he love? What was he going to…

“Wait a minute…” He thought to himself.

“What am I saying? Which one do I choose? That makes no sense!” He then looked up at Brahm.

“I choose neither Brahm!” He yelled, and was satisfied by the look of shock that passed over the Demon’s face.

“What do you mean by that mortal? Would you have me kill them both?” He asked while an aura of flame returned to him. He was puzzled, as was everyone else watching, when they saw Ranma smirk.

“You idiot! How can I choose one of them? The answer is I can’t! I can’t because Kasumi and Belldandy…Belldandy and Kasumi…it’s the same person! They are one and the same!” His aura shot into existence, surrounding him with its power.

“And I will save her!” He roared as he charged forward, and tackled Brahm to the ground. The impact stunned Brahm, and the two representations he had created of Kasumi and Belldandy disappeared. But the bottle he held, it went flying into the air as he flung it away.

“NO!!!!!!” Ranma cried as he watched it arc through the air, before beginning its inevitable descent towards the ground. It seemed to sparkle as it fell. It shattered with stunning finality upon the ground of Hell, and Ranma felt his heart join it. He slowly got off of Brahm who smirked, and crouched over the tiny pieces that remained of it, and watched as the mist that had inhabited the bottle seemed to caress his arm gently, before fading from view. He trembled, and hot tears threatened to spill past his vision, but he clenched his eyes shut and willed them away.

“No…” He whispered. It just wasn’t fair. He had come so far, suffered so much, only to fail. The dream came back to him. In it, he had been asked to choose between Kasumi and Belldandy, and he had been warned that he could not have them both. And it was right. It was also right in another way. He was a failure. He had failed the one person he…

“Why…” It came out very quietly. He clenched his fists and his eyes, and his body trembled much more violently.

“WHY!!!!!!!!!” He screamed as his aura exploded around him with a huge roar of power to accompany it. Getting to his feet, he turned dark eyes towards Brahm, the source of his misery. The cause of all his pain.

“Brahm…I swore I would end this…” He said in a cold voice, as his aura seemed to grow even larger.

“And I will keep that promise! As well as avenge her!” He roared as he dashed towards the Demon and immediately began to try and rip him apart. He no longer cared. Nothing mattered except utterly destroying the Demon who caused all this. Even if he died in the process, Belldandy would be avenged. A particularly nasty ki powered haymaker slammed into Brahm, and Ranma felt a grim satisfaction at hearing bone cracking. Meanwhile, Brahm winced in pain from all of Ranma’s blows. He was beginning to run very low on energy, and cursed the fact that a mortal could do all this to him.

“I still don’t understand how a mortal could be this strong? What is his secret? Why is he so powerful!” A devastating kick from Ranma impacted Brahm’s ribs, and he could swear that a few broke. Spitting blood, Brahm got mad, very mad. Some say that anger is the strongest emotion, simply because it is arguably the most intense. Anger is the body’s way of defending itself usually as it makes for an excellent weapon. But when a Demon gets angry, it becomes much more than that. As Brahm felt the familiar and comforting rage fill him with strength, he lifted his head back and cried out in joy, though it sounded more like an anguished scream. The ground beneath him buckled under his power as his aura created a small crater where he stood. It’s intensity so great that he could melt steel just from contact with it. Ranma had safely backed away the moment he sensed the Demon’s power growing. It was beginning to annoy him that no matter how many deadly attacks he administered upon Brahm, the First Class simply refused to be beaten. He didn’t know that the same thoughts about him were echoed by the Demon he faced.

“I now understand why Saffron fell to you mortal…Why even a God could not defeat you…you possess a great power, and one I do not understand but cannot deny…” Brahm said in a voice that sounded oddly cold to Ranma’s ears.

“But regardless of that, I am far more powerful than the Phoenix God could ever hope to be…” Brahm said as he let his flame aura engulf even more space as it swelled in strength. He then held up both hands, and let the power flow into them. The burning fury he held for the mortal kept in check through sheer willpower.

“Now…you will die…I no longer care about anything else except bringing about your death! It is the only thing that will bring me joy anymore! I will kill you!” Brahm snarled hatefully.

“Those are my words!” Ranma growled in return as he prepared for whatever Brahm threw at him. The Demon did not disappoint as he created a wall of flame to surround them, serving as a sort of arena.

“Now…Die!!!” Brahm cried as he unleashed a massive flame storm. Fiery shards of fire rained down on Ranma who desperately tried to dodge it all. Brahm snarled again and raised a hand, and suddenly pillars of fire erupted from the ground, barely missing the blur that was Ranma Saotome. The combined attack was almost too much for the martial artist, but his will to see vengeance wrought upon the Demon kept him going. Deciding that he couldn’t dodge forever, Ranma charged ki into every part of his body and crouched slightly. Brahm saw this and just as a pillar of flame was about to erupt from under him while a burning molten rock was about to rain down upon him, Ranma called out his attack.

“Saotome Final Attack! Soul of Ice!!!” He rose to his feet and clenched his fists and eyes shut as cold ki erupted from his every pore and spread out in a wave of pure frigid power.

“ARGHH!!!” Ranma yelled as his body served as a living battery for all the ki he was channeling. The massive amounts of energy threatened to tear him apart, but still he held on. Refusing to surrender to the darkness that lurked at the edges of his vision. Finally, unable to handle releasing any more energy, Ranma’s body gave out, and he fell to his knees, barely conscious. Looking up weakly, he noted with satisfaction that Brahm was on his back and still. Perhaps he had finally killed him? He certainly hoped so. He had never wanted to kill again after Saffron, but that was before Belldandy had died. The others rushed up to him, and he desperately tried to remain awake.

“They all look so tired…” He thought to himself as he glanced at each of their faces in turn. Then he saw a sight that made his heart stop. Ryoga held a body. A very special body. It was the body of Kasumi. Getting to his feet, and ignoring the pain it brought, Ranma staggered over to the lost boy, and hesitantly took the body from him. Ryoga’s face showed great sorrow, as did everyone else’s. Ranma watched her face, beautiful even in death, and brushed a lock of hair from her face. This time, he let the tears come, and as they filled his vision, he repeated one thing in his mind over and over.

“It’s not fair…it’s not fair…it’s not fair…it just isn’t fair…” It went on and on, endlessly. After all that, he still didn’t win, he still failed. He was still a failure. He couldn’t even see her in her true form one last time. It did strike him as odd that she didn’t revert to her real form after dying but he didn’t give it much thought, he was in too much grief to care. The physical pain his body was in was nothing to the emotional pain he felt. The adrenalin from battle had left him, and now he felt empty. Like his soul had been ripped out, instead of hers. He bowed his head over her body and cried in earnest, not caring what the others might say. They simply took a step back and gave him room. Their eyes all watched him, feeling the helplessness he felt. Ranma cried even harder as the memories they shared came back to him. All those caring words Kasumi had given him, all those comforting moments. All those times where no matter how awful or depressed he felt, she could make him feel better, feel loved. Then he saw all the times he spent with her after he found out she was a Goddess. Eating lunch together, talking on the roof, and watching her as she slept. He felt the tightening of his heart and bowed his head more.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Belldandy… I’m so sorry it took me this long…to realize…that I…” He didn’t finish as he felt a feeling…of comfort fall upon him. It was so familiar. It reminded him of her. He gasped as it grew stronger.

“What…?” He whispered as he saw the golden mist from the bottle hover over the motionless body he held protectively in his arms. It stayed there for a moment, as if watching him, before it began to descend, and enter the body of Kasumi Tendo. Ranma blinked in confusion as his tears still fell. He then watched in awe as the mist finished entering her through the chest area, and gasped as her formally cold body began to grow warmer. Everyone watched in astonishment as her body then began to glow with a golden light. One that encompassed the entire area, and temporarily blinded all present. When his vision finally returned, Ranma blinked back his tears and gasped at the sight before him. Where before he had held the form of Kasumi Tendo, he now held the body of the Goddess Belldandy. And it was so warm! Then…then he watched in disbelief and hope, as her breath returned, and her eyes began to flutter. Not believing his own eyes, and yet letting hope swell in his chest, Ranma gasped as her eyes opened, and he stared into the warm sky blue pools he had yearned for so much. They just stared at each other for a few moments, amidst the gapes and gazes of all present, before Ranma suddenly hugged her to himself. Desperately pressing her light frame to his body as if to confirm through his other senses what his sight was telling him. He inhaled her wonderful scent, and ran his hands through her gorgeous brown hair. He whispered in a thick voice heavy with emotion.

“I thought I’d lost you… I thought you were gone… But you’re alive…” He repeated it again as if trying to reassure himself that she was indeed alive and warm in his arms. Belldandy said nothing, content to simply be held by his strong arms. Then she whispered in his ear.

“I was dead…but you…you guided me back…” He smiled at her words. Finally, he stood up, still carrying her, and turned to the others, tears still running down his face, though they were of joy this time and not despair.

“everyone… we did it!” He said with a smile, to which they all returned.

“It’s over…” Ranma thought to himself, and smiled down at the wonderful girl in his arms. Of course, he should have known that nothing in his life was ever that simple… An angry cry of defiance echoed behind them, and they all turned to see a sight out of their nightmares. Brahm stood there, his eyes completely blood red and pupil-less. A raging ball of fire held in each hand.

“You will not escape me!” He screamed to them. Ranma met his gaze with a cold glare, and set the slightly frightened Belldandy on her feet. Without turning away from the Demon, he spoke to the others.

“Get out of here now…I’ll take care of him…” Belldandy gasped and took hold of his arm.

“Ranma no! Don’t…” He silenced her with a finger to her lips, and smiled his familiar cocky grin.

“Don’t worry…Ranma Saotome never loses right?” He then ran towards Brahm. He turned towards them all one more time.

“Everyone! Take care of her!” He then turned back to his greatest foe, and his face became grim. Brahm smirked, though it was slightly maniacal. It seemed that he had finally gone over the edge. Ranma showed no fear as he leapt towards the Demon. Belldandy watched with a sickening feeling in her stomach as he charged into battle.

“He isn’t going to come back…and he knows it!” She turned to the others.

“We have to help him!” She cried. Ryoga shook his head.

“Ranma knows he can’t win…I could see it in his eyes…he isn’t expecting to come back from this alive…” Belldandy stared at the fanged one wordlessly, and turned back only to see Ranma get violently smashed into the ground by a force bolt from Brahm. Ranma struggled to get up, and was hit by a flame blast for his troubles. Belldandy desperately wished she could help, but her near brush with death had left her weak and with barely enough strength to move. Ranma was hit with another blast, and his wounded bleeding body tore at her heart. Then, as they watched in awe, he suddenly tackled Brahm to the ground only to have Brahm lift him up by the neck. Ranma sighed sadly and then concentrated.

“Goodbye everyone…especially you Belldandy…I…I’m sorry…this is the only way…” He then grabbed a hold of Brahm’s arm as he let out all the remaining ki in his body in one final attack that began to freeze he and Brahm completely. Brahm gasped as the numbing cold assaulted him.

“No! What are you doing!? We’ll both be…ARGHH!!!!” The Demon screamed as the cold overtook him and Ranma smiled sadly.

“It ends here Brahm…I won’t let you hurt anyone else whom I care for…” He said just as the cold overtook him as well. Standing there before the others was a statue, made entirely of ice. Frozen in their polar tomb forever, were Ranma and Brahm. Belldandy ran up to it and slammed her hands weakly against the solid ice.

“No no no!” She cried as tears streamed down her cheeks. Akane bowed her head to hide the tears.

“Ranma…you jerk…I never even got to tell you…” She thought to herself as the visions of a happy life with him faded away into nothingness. Ukyo sobbed openly and didn’t protest as Konatsu put his arms around her to try and offer comfort.

“Ranchan…” She whispered. Shampoo held her head up; even with her own tears rolling off.

“Ranma…Shampoo will never forget…” She said, trying her best to be a proud Amazon warrior, and failing miserably. Mousse watched his beloved sadly and bowed his own head in a sign of respect.

“Saotome…no… Ranma…I swear I will try to be at least half the man you were…” He thought to himself. Genma and Soun each felt a great loss in their hearts. For Genma it was the loss of a child and student, for Soun it was the loss of one whom he had grown to think of as the son he never had. Nabiki said nothing, unable to believe that the invincible Ranma Saotome was really gone; as she remembered all the things she had done to him to make a quick buck. Ryoga walked up to the frozen statue and whispered familiar words.

“Shi Shi Hokodan…” He fired the ki blast at the icy tomb, and cursed to himself angrily as it failed to even leave a dent. He was about to try again when Belldandy stopped him.

“It’s no use…” She whispered.

“Ranma has sealed himself and Brahm using his own life-force. It’s impossible to break him free.” She then broke down once more, leaving Ryoga to stare at the sadly smiling face of his rival, frozen in time forever.

“Ranma…you always had to be the hero didn’t you?” He bowed his head and cursed himself as he felt a few tears come.

“Why? You were my rival, enemy, hated foe…” He then lifted his head, and tried to smile at Ranma’s face.

“And most of all…my friend…” He briefly recalled all the memories he had of the pig-tailed youth who, like it or not, had always been so central to his life. This time though, he saw them all in an unbiased light. He bowed his head again and closed his eyes.

“I’m sorry, I wasted so much time…so much time in which we could have been friends…” He then looked up again.

“But you never thought of me that way, huh Ranma? You always thought of me as a friend, even when I was trying to kill you…” Ryoga then bowed low to Ranma in a sign of respect, and turned away.

“Sayonara Ranma…my friend…” Only Belldandy was left standing near the statue. Everyone else had stepped away to grieve in their own ways. Something inside her was dying, but she didn’t care anymore…all that mattered was him, and he was gone… She remembered a time when her sister Skuld has asked her why she thought so highly of mortals when all they ever did was act childish and bring ruin upon themselves. At the time she had been unable to answer. But now, now she could answer. Looking at Ranma, she knew why mortals were so special…why not even a mighty Demon like Brahm could crush the human spirit. It was because humans didn’t let things like their own mortality stop them from fulfilling their dreams. From doing what was right. There were bad ones as well as good of course. It was human nature to be evil and vindictive, but that was only one side of a coin. The other side showed that they could accomplish great things with very little. That they could come together in times of need and work for a better future for their offspring. Ranma possessed all of these qualities and more. But most of all, he never gave up when the going got tough. Another memory tickled Belldandy’s mind.

“You’re always there to catch me when I fall Belldandy…”   “I think we catch each other…”

She gasped as she recalled their talk on the rooftop, and everything else they had shared together. A sense of determination filled her, and her face hardened.

“I will not let you die Ranma…It’s my turn to catch you now…” She closed her eyes, and concentrated. Willing her power as a Goddess into freeing him from the icy prison of his own making. The glow that surrounded her was golden and warm. The others watched it in awe as it slowly spread and began to engulf the portion of the ice that imprisoned Ranma. Sweat pooled upon her face, but she didn’t stop. Slowly, and seemingly taking an eternity, the ice began to melt. Everyone gaped in awe. Belldandy’s bit her lip unconsciously as the strain grew greater.

“Ranma…come back to us…come back to…me.” The golden energy continued its work slowly, and for a moment it looked like it would fail. But then, then it finished, and the ice around Ranma melted entirely. Freeing him. He fell to the ground in a heap, and Belldandy collapsed next to him. The strain of using her power almost too much to bear. She really needed some sleep. But she didn’t care. Crawling over to him, she took his hand and held it to her cheek, willing him to live. More energy flowed from her body into his, and everyone let a smile reach their face as Ranma began to cough several times. Belldandy herself, tired as she was, had the biggest smile of all. Ranma weakly opened his eyes, and gazed at everyone crowding around him, before turning hesitantly to Belldandy’s tear-stained smiling face. Trembling a bit, and feeling weak as a baby, he reached up and brushed some tears from her face.

“I…made you cry…I’m sorry…” He whispered. It was too much for her and she buried her head into his chest, soaking his ripped and ruined shirt with tears. Ranma just held her and gazed up at everyone’s faces. Slowly, a smile broke upon his own.

“It’s over…it’s finally… really… over…” He said as he closed his eyes and continued to hold Belldandy, his Goddess, in his arms. The others cheered and laughed happily. The girls hugged each other, even the fiancée’s, and all was right with the world. Then a puff of smoke appeared, and a woman appeared. She was blonde and had markings on her face similar to Brahm’s. She also radiated evil, though not on Brahm;s level. Everyone got into defensive stances, and Ranma and Belldandy stared at her questioningly. She smirked and strolled over to the still frozen Brahm.

“Heh, always knew you’d get what was coming to you Brahm… and in such an ironic way too…” She laughed slightly and then turned to Belldandy.

“Mara…what are you doing here?” She asked calmly, though she was a bit afraid that the Demoness might use her weakened state to her advantage. Mara held up her hands in a placating gesture.

“Whoa whoa, peace! And as for what I’m doing here, well this is Hell ya know. I am a Demon…duh.” Belldandy blinked, as did everyone else, while Mara sighed.

“Geez, tough crowd…okay then…” She crossed her arms and smirked at Ranma, though it resembled a bit of a leer to Belldandy.

“I’d first of all like to thank you Ranma…Thanks to you, we can finally nail Brahm for all he has done…” This made Belldandy clearly puzzled.

“What do you mean Mara?” She asked curiously. Mara smirked wider, making Ranma nervous for some reason.

“Well, we’ve been meaning to punish Brahm for a while now, because to put it bluntly, he makes other Demons look like saints in comparison. I mean the guy doesn’t even care if Demons die when he goes off on God killing missions! Unauthorized I might add. And now, now he’s brought several mortals into Hell without proper clearance from the higher-ups, and they ain’t pleased…lemme tell ya!” Everyone just continued to stare at her oddly, before Belldandy finally spoke up.

“So…you mean Brahm was a renegade?” Mara nodded her head.

“For lack of a better term yes. He broke the rules one too many times, and as much as we were willing to overlook it because of his first class status…his limit has been reached and exceeded, and it’s time for him to pay up!” So saying, Mara snapped her fingers, and the still frozen Brahm disappeared in another puff of smoke. Blowing imaginary smoke off of a finger, Mara then turned to Ranma again.

“Well, as thanks for what you did for us, I am prepared to grant you a wish and…” Belldandy cut her off quickly, laughing nervously all the way.

“Heh heh, that won’t be necessary Mara, could you just send us home please?” Mara blinked in confusion for a moment, before nodding.

“Well, okay if you insist… She then raised her arms, muttered a few words, and a portal similar to the one Brahm had created previously appeared in front of them.

“There ya go, a one-way trip back to the mortal realm, now departing.” She then disappeared, though her voice lingered in their minds.

“Chow kids! And treat her right Ranma!” This caused Ranma and Belldandy to blush a bit, as did one other comment Mara said only in Belldandy’s mind.

“Shoulda known you’d get a hunk before me Belldandy! Good luck with him!” And then she was really gone. They all smiled and took turns entering the portal. Ranma and Belldandy were last, and they lingered for a bit longer, staring at each other, before Ranma made a go on gesture with his arm.

“Lady’s first.” He said with a mock bow, to which she smiled.

“Why thank you sir! But since when did you become so well-mannered?” He chuckled a bit and rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment to which she giggled. His face then grew tender, and he held out a hand to which she took. Smiling warmly at her, Ranma spoke.

“Let’s go home Belldandy…” She smiled in return.

“Yes…let’s go home Ranma…together…”

 

 

Author’s Notes: Ok…it’s done…finally…the longest chapter I have ever written for any story is finally completed. Whew, now to sleep. Anyway, hope you liked it, but even if you didn’t let me know, positive and negative criticism and comments will be accepted as per usual. If you’re wondering about the Saotome Final Attack revised having nothing to do with the old one, well, this new one is Ranma’s final attack, not his Dad’s. Hence it is different. It’s basically a real final, all powerful attack, and not another way to run. Well, I hope that doesn’t sound too odd. Oh yeah, and look for an epilogue to be released shortly. Well, that’s all for now…

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