The waiting Hild’s eyebrows went up at the sight of the grin. “You’re certainly in a good mood,” she said, smiling slightly. “No uncertainty about carrying out the execution, no hesitation?”
The revenant shook her head. “Nope, not at all, the Panda got exactly what he deserved, and I imagine is getting more now.”
“Yes, he is, the full measure for his sins,” Hild agreed. “Do you want to see?”
Pausing, the prospective fury frowned thoughtfully. “Noooo, I don’t think so,” she said slowly. “It’s enough ta know he’s finally getting what’s comin’ to him, I don’t need ta watch. I might actually start feeling sorry fer the bastard.”
Good for you, Hild thought as she kept her smile in place, feeling her singing tension easing off slightly. I have plenty of torturers already, I don’t need a Fury that gets off on pain. Still, that wasn’t ever a major worry.
Aloud, she asked, “So, do you want a break, or to move right along?”
“No point in waiting,” the redhead said with a shrug. “Let’s get Pig Boy out of the way.”
Hild nodded to the technician standing at a console to the side, and the blond seeming-human tattooed demon’s hands flew across the console.
While her lackey brought down the Gate and worked at opening a new one, Hild nodded at the backpack resting against the wall. “Rethgar said the special equipment you requested for the Ryoga strike is in the backpack. What is it?”
“I think I’ll leave that a surprise,” the revenant said with a light grin after a moment’s thought, first examining then closing and picking up the backpack and slinging it over one shoulder. Then the grin turned ugly, as she snarled, “It’ll help ya enjoy the show.”
Ryoga trudged through the falling snow, ignoring the beauty of the moonlight reflecting off the dusting of white on the evergreens around him as easily as he did the weight of the huge backpack he carried. It was very early morning, dawn still an hour away, but he had no problem finding his way under the trees — the light cast by the faint sickly-green glow he radiated was enough to light his way.
The fanged young man broke into a clearing, lit up by moonlight. He glanced around indifferently then started across, only to freeze at the sound of a still-familiar voice, one that had haunted his dreams for a year. “Hey, P-chan, been awhile since ya helped kill me.”
Whirling, Ryoga stared as a shadow under a tree moved, and his long-time nemesis stepped into the clearing, a large raven riding a small backpack over one shoulder and an unsheathed sword in one hand. “Ranma?” he whispered.
“Used to be, not anymore,” the girl said. “After the way Genma and Nodoka discarded me, I figured I’d return the favor.”
“I ... you ... so what do I call you?” Ryoga stammered out.
The former Saotome glanced over as the raven hopped onto her shoulder and stared at the fanged boy. “Call me Raven,” she said. “It’s as good a name as any, and from what I remember from one lesson in mythology it fits well enough.”
Ryoga stared for another long moment, then started to shake. “Where have you been hiding the past year!?” he shouted out. “Do you have any idea what you did to my life when you ran away and hid? Akane tried to kill me! And Akari, she refuses to even see me ... when she heard what happened she wouldn’t accept that it was your own incompetence that ... that killed you ... how did you fake ... ?”
He stared at the newly-named Raven for a moment, then his face hardened as he shrugged off the straps so his backpack crashed to the ground. “I don’t care! Because of your cowardice my life is in ruins, now I’ve truly seen Hell! Ranma, prepare to die! Shi Shi Hokoden!”
Thought flew up to a nearby tree branch where it could view the action as the newly-named Raven easily dodged, the burning green ball of ki flashing past her to detonate against one of the trees circling the clearing, then cartwheeled away as, with a series of groaning, cracking sounds, the tree slowly leaned over and fell between the two.
Leaping up onto the tree, she shook her head at Ryoga. “Amazin’ how often ya can be wrong in one rant,” she said. “First, I haven’t been hiding, I’ve been dead — ya oughta know, ya helped kill me when ya charged into my fight without botherin’ ta check out what was goin’ on. Second, ya haven’t come close ta seeing Hell yet, but ya will. And third, ya probably think this is yet another of our usual fights, where ya do yer best ta kill me, while I treat it like a lark. It isn’t, it’s an execution.”
With that, Raven dropped down to crouch behind the tree Ryoga had brought down. Swinging the backpack from off her shoulder, she quickly opened it and pulled out a handful of small glass-like round balls even as she scuttled along the tree to its top. She popped up for a quick look just as another shi shi hokodan exploded against the tree trunk where she had been standing.
“Ranma! Come back and DIE!!” Ryoga howled as he threw himself over the tree trunk, a massive ball of ki glowing green between hands cupped at chest level.
“Hey, bacon-breath, over here!” Raven called from the side, and Ryoga whirled and thrust his hands forward, screaming out his hatred as he fired another flaming green ball of ki.
Again, Raven easily dodged, leaping over the coruscating sphere and throwing the three balls in her hand. They smashed into the tree trunk beside Ryoga, and he started, eyes widening, as he felt moisture splash across the back of a hand. As he lifted the hand to stare at the water dripping off, Raven dug into her backpack to pull out another three balls. “Remember how ya got me ta promise not ta tell anyone about yer curse, and then used it ta sneak into Akane’s bed?” the redhead called out. “Ya really shouldn’t have done that. And ya shouldn’t have left yer umbrella with yer backpack, either.”
Ryoga glanced around wildly. The tree wouldn’t work, that redheaded bitch could simply hop back and forth over it; there was no way he could make it to his backpack and get the umbrella loose before being hit — that just left the woods. It would mean abandoning his supplies, but he could always steal more.
Whirling, he raced for the woods, jinking back and forth as he ran. Glass balls flew past him on both sides to turn into globes of water splattering across the tree trunks ahead of him. Then he was at the edge of the clearing, a grin breaking across his face as he was framed by two ancient trees — and he rocked forward as two glass balls smashing into the back of his head held their shape for a split second before turning to water and splashing around him.
The fanged boy’s shout turned into a squeal as he felt the familiar split-second twisting as he fell into the middle of the inevitable pile of clothes. Frantically, he struggled to shake himself out of the shirt, scrabbled out of pants he’d been wearing a second earlier, then the half-grown pig bounded for the woods. He could still make it — and a searing pain slashed through his middle and the world was spinning, and as he thudded into the ground looking back toward the clearing he could barely see his enemy flicking blood off the blade of the sword in her hand as the world went dark.
Raven stared down expressionlessly at the two halves of the young pig lying at her feet, then picked up Ryoga’s shirt to wipe the blade clean and turned back toward where she'd left the scabbard. And that’s two.
Nabiki swore as the shrilling of the telephone in the hall of the three-bedroom apartment she shared with her sisters woke her from an uneasy sleep. If Akane has been having one of her good nights and whoever was calling woke her up, he or she is going to regret it, she thought with a snarl as she rolled out of bed and stumbled out into the hallway. Grabbing the cordless handset by feel in the dark, she lifted it to her head and growled, “This had better be good!”
At the sound of the voice on the other end of the line, Nabiki shot upright, the last of the drowsiness blown away by shock. “Momma Nodoka? Why are you calling so ...” ... “Genma’s what!?” ... “RAN — !” The middle Tendo broke off and lowered her voice to a near-whisper. “Did you say Ranma killed him? How?” ... “Certainly, come right over, we can put out a futon in the front room.” ... “No, there’s no point in running, if Ranma can find us here, he’ll be able to find us anywhere we can get to quickly. Besides, Akane would demand to know why, and when we tell her she’d refuse to leave.” ... “Listen, just come on over, we can talk it over when you get here.” ... “I love you, too.”
Hanging up the phone, Nabiki turned to find Kasumi standing in the doorway to her bedroom. “You heard?”
Kasumi nodded. “Let me throw on a robe and get water heating for tea, lay out the futon for Mama Nodoka.”