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Disclaimer: Ranma and the Nerima Wrecking Crew belong to Rumiko Takahashi while Rifts and Nightspawn belong to Palladium. Babylon 5, Nightspawn and Sailormoon belong to all their creators respectively.
AFTER DARK ... WHEN TRUE NIGHT FALLS ...
"And the fifth angel went out and poured his vial onto the throne of the beast and his kingdom was plunged into darkness."
- Revelation 16:21
Part 12: Penumbra
Two months later ....
While strolling through the park in his human form, Ranma was to receive his first clue to that identity question. In the wee hours of the morning, the skies suddenly turned dark. So dark that it became like night. 'Damn! Can't see a thing. Where are the stars?' he wondered as he looked up into the skies. There were no stars. No moon to give its light. Just that one single solid sheet of darkness.
'If only I were in my cursed form, I would be able to see.'
As if in answer to the thought in his head, water splashed on top of him from somewhere turning him into his female form. Instantly, he was able to see clearly without any problems.
"My thanks," he whispered to the skies.
"You're welcome." came the reply.
Ranma looked around for the speaker but there was no one present.
'Creepy.' he thought and left the area with a single bound to the top of a ten storey building.
'Something's going on. The strength of my powers and the rate of replenishment of that strange energy in my body have more than doubled. It's like the mystical energies of the planet itself have been reawakened. How?' he wondered as he studied the city from his position. With his keen eyesight, he was able to see people running back and forth in a panic.
He was about to go down and help them when he felt a large source of magical energy heading for him. 'Not good! Not good!' he thought as it drew closer. He leaped down from the building to the bottom only to have the source of magical energy strike him right in the back.
"Arrggghhhh!" he screamed as the energy flooded his body and entered every pore and reacted with the strange energies already present in his body.
CRASH! The sound of Ranma getting smashed through the hard surface of the ground.
"OWWW!" The sound of Ranma screaming as a result of the pain coursing through his whole body.
Eighty seconds later ...
'What's happening to me?' Ranma thought as the world shifted around him.
'Things seem to be getting small and then big all of a sudden. If this continues I'm going to throw up.'
'Focus on regaining control of the energies in your body.' A voice seemed to say.
"Who said that?" Ranma shouted.
'I did.' The voice replied.
"Who are you?" Ranma asked.
'Your cursed form.' came the reply.
'Listen carefully, Ranma or we might not make it out of this alive. This shouldn't have happened but it did. The huge source of magical energy that struck us has screwed up the energies of your male form, your female form and the Jusenkyo curse. They are all out of alignment. Focus on regaining control of the energies coursing through your body or we might come apart at the seams.'
"Alright!" Ranma spoke and focused on the various energies running wild through his body. There appeared to be four types. First was the ki energy of his male form which he was so familiar with. Then there was the vast reservoir of mystical energy of his female form followed by the patches of Jusenkyo magic moving randomly in all direction. Last was that new pool of magical energy that had just been forcefully inserted into his veins.
Ranma took a hold of them and carefully pushed them together. The vast reservoir of mystical energy, the random patches of Jusenkyo magic and the new pool of magical energy easily came together. But the ki energy refused to mix with them and stayed separate no matter what he did.
'Ranma look out!' The voice spoke.
Ranma turned around and saw a group of six men heading towards him like soldiers. Right before his eyes, their clothes, flesh and skin melted away, giving way to skull-faced humanoids in black metal skeletal armour. They all looked the same except for one with ornate horns and black cape which Ranma correctly assumed to be the leader.
'Stupid illusions.' the voice in his head said.
They headed towards him shoving any object (living or dead) out of their way none too gently.
"Watch it, ass**!" one man shouted and was ruthlessly cut down for his trouble by the nearest skull-faced humanoid with his black metal spear.
The others ran towards him, their black metal weapons in readiness ....
The skies had turned dark … like one solid sheet of darkness descending upon them. There was not even the slightest pinprick of light in the sky. No sun, no moon and no stars either. It was as if all the heavenly bodies had agreed to pull a disappearing act simultaneously or the Earth itself had decided it wanted some time out from the rest of the universe … Whatever the case was, for two Tendo sisters it was downright disturbing. Something about the darkness felt unnatural and wrong … like it was not supposed to be there at all.
Earlier on … they had barred their doors and latched their windows when the skies had gone dark without warning … like someone had thrown off the light switch in a dark room except that this was the sun itself … Even the old panda and their father was on edge as they gazed out of their doubly barred windows into the seemingly never ending darkness of the sky.
“It’s dark … really dark outside, sis. The sun’s gone and there’s not even a star in the sky. What’s happening?” Akane asked.
“I don’t know. Let’s find out what’s on the news.” Nabiki answered.
“And now for the special news bulletin at 8.00 am. This is news anchorman, Mr. Hirokawa reporting live from Okinawa Province.”
“So … Mr. Hirokawa, what have you got there?”
“The same thing that everyone else is experiencing. The sky has gone completely dark and has remained so since it first happened an hour ago … at 7.00 am.”
“Any explanations as to this unusual phenomena?”
“Well … our scientists and experts are still working on it. I have here with me, Professor Sadako of Tokyo University. So Professor Sadako, what do you think of this event?”
“Well … my first thought was that this was an eclipse caused by something big … I mean really massive … blocking the sun but I ruled that out due to the fact that the entire sky was dark. If this was a solar eclipse, the darkness would have covered the sun only … not block out the entire sky. For something of this magnitude to occur, since the entire sky was and is still completely dark, something really big would have to be used to cover the entire world. But that’s impossible because … even if it were big enough … it would have to cover the entire sky simultaneously to achieve an effect like that.”
“Any ideas as to how long this thing would continue?”
“To be honest, none.”
“Thank you Professor Sadako.”
“And now a word from our Minister of Defense, Mr. Yamada. Mr. Yamada what do we have on this strange event?”
“Preliminary readings of the sky suggest that there is nothing in orbit around the Earth at the moment. Which should explain our loss of contact with all communication satellites.”
“All communication satellites?”
“Yes. All communication satellites in orbit around the earth. We are currently maintaining contact with all nations around the world through our archaic undersea fiber optic cables and microwave beam towers on Earth.
“Mr. Yamada, did you say all nothing is in orbit at the moment?”
“Yes. I did.”
“Does this mean that the moon has gone missing?”
“Yes, as difficult as it is to believe. All scans indicate that the heavenly bodies such as the sun, the moon and the stars have disappeared completely from our charts. As to how this was done, I have no idea.”
“And one more thing Mr. Yamada, could this event be a massive hallucination or setup by hostile forces?”
“Well … if it were … I would say those people who accomplished this feat deserved an EA Emmy’s Award … for pulling it off successfully on an entire planet!”
“Thank you. That’s all we have for now from Channel Nine. We now return to our regular broadcast …”
Nabiki flipped the channel.
“And now live from the ISN channel. Mr. Adams what do have regarding this strange event that has taken place around the entire world?”
“There have been several theories put forth … by experts … in both science and religion.”
“So … what do we have?”
“Well from the religious side of things … I will have begin with the Holy See from the Vatican City.”
“So … Our Most Holy Father … what does the Vatican have to say about this unexplained occurrence?”
“Well there is a verse in the Bible that may or may not be a reference to this occurrence.”
“Let me read it to you. takes out his Bible And the fifth angel went out and poured his vial onto the throne of the beast and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Revelation 16: 21. That is the best clue that we have as to what this is at the moment.”
“Holy Father … you sound rather apocalyptic.”
“Apocalyptic? Maybe. But then God has always placed emphasis on his Second Coming and this could be one of his little reminders that He is still around.”
“Thank you, for sharing with us your message to the world. Many religious groups believe that this darkness covering the earth is a sign of the end times.”
Behind the reporter can be seen … many people worshipping on the ground and holding placards bearing the words JUDGEMENT DAY IS HERE.
“In the Middle East … tensions are rising rapidly as many of the Moslem countries have declared a state of emergency and are up in arms … believing this to be a sign of the coming of the dreaded Al-Dajjal, the so-called Sick Man of Humanity. The Arch-Deceiver, enemy to all that is good predicted to appear in the end times in the Hadith.”
“As usual, scientists are, of course, looking at the religious ‘end’ with a pinch of salt. The most common explanation being that the sun has undergone an ‘inverted nova’ so to speak causing its light to draw inwards instead of outwards.”
“Is that so? How does that explain the disappearance of the stars?”
“Well … they’re still trying to figure that part out.”
“And what is your explanation, Mr. Adams?”
“It’s a bit embarrassing for me to say it out … It sounds far-fetched …”
“At this point in time … anything will do …”
“Alright … Here goes nothing …. takes a deep breath This event is actually a massive blackout engineered by aliens out to take over the entire world. he laughs”
“That’s a good one, Mr. Adams. Who knows … with that explanation, you might even win the Nobel Prize when this is over! In the meantime … citizens are urged not to panic and to stay indoors until this unexplained phenomenon is over. Also as a reminder … all forms of communications from Earth to its colonies remain down …”
The lights in the house flickered and then dimmed completely. There was nothing but darkness in the room …
“Crap! Looks like the power is out.” Nabiki spoke as she got up from the sofa.
“Sis … I’m scared … I’m getting the feeling that there’s something terribly wrong happening … Do you think this has something to do with what-” the youngest Tendo sister answered.
“Cologne told us before? The whole Ba’al thing? Maybe … maybe not … If Kasumi were here …” before realizing something important.
“Akane … have you or has anyone here seen Kasumi?” the middle Tendo sister asked.
CRASH! The brick wall crumbled as a pole-length black metal axe went smashing through it, narrowly missing Ranma as he dived beneath it.
'My power appears to be restricted when it comes to living things or magical artifacts, Ranma,' the 'other' voice spoke. The pigtailed martial artist turned beauty queen had earlier tried to stop them with his powers only to find them rather useless.
"Now you tell me." Ranma growled beneath his breath as he leaped upwards avoiding another fast forward slash from one of those creatures.
While in the air, he threw a blast of dark energy at the leader which (much to Ranma's surprise) it deflected with its large black metal sword into a nearby van that exploded showering them with shrapnel.
'Well ... I knew those weapons were enchanted but who would ever guess they were resistant to my powers?'
"You got anything else to share with me that I didn't already know, O Wise One?" asked the pigtailed martial artist rather acidly.
Three black metal weapons combed the air where Ranma was previously only to be disappointed. Ranma dropped to the ground, rolled below the swinging weapons and quickly lifted up the nearest car he could get his hands on and threw it at the attacking creatures (which Ranma deduced to be non-humans as he could see their metallic tails and claws).
It went up in a thundering explosion as a black metal axe cleaved through it to reveal the black metal creature behind it.
'Not yet. I would let you know as soon as I do though. You got to remember I've been out of the loop for a few millennia. Things have changed quite a bit since the last time I saw them.' the all-too familiar voice replied calmly.
He was broken out of his thoughts by the sounds of people running back and forth smashing windows, setting the places on fire and tearing the place apart.
"What's going on? Why are they tearing up the entire neighbourhood?"
'Human behaviour has always been a mystery to me.'
"Got it this time!" Ranma cheered as his blast of dark energy vaporised one of the metallic creatures as it leaped to the top of a three storey building alongside him. Acting on instinct, Ranma ripped the metal ladder from its rungs with his alien powers and sent it careening towards the group of metal creatures coming at him.
One of the metal creatures batted it aside only to have the metal ladder suddenly wrapped itself around it like rope with sharp spikes that pierced its metal armour killing it instantly.
Undaunted by the death of their compatriot, the four remaining creatures made a rush towards him. The pigtailed martial artist was about to leap to safety when he heard the voice again.
'Ranma, create an armour of electricity around yourself.'
Ranma did so and his body was enveloped by an aura of crackling electricity. Two of the creatures were unable to stop their forward charge and the speed of their momentum carried them straight into the large sphere of electrical energy that extended outwards from the pigtailed martial artist in a ten-foot radius. Consequently ending up … deep-fried. Both creatures fell to the ground in a heap.
The leader was able to stop itself, however, and swung its large black sword at the solid foundation of a large tank of water, cutting through it like a hot knife through butter. Thus … sending it toppling in Ranma's direction.
In response, the pigtailed martial artist turned beauty queen grabbed hold of the structure with his alien power and threw the entire tank right back at the leader. It deftly avoided the blow by leaping away with its companion to disappear into the streets below.
Quickly, he chased after it, dispelling his aura of electricity as he did so, substituting it with a sleek suit of black metal armour instead that fitted his body like a second skin. When he arrived at the edge of the building, the creature seemed to ...... his combat instincts prompted his hands to catch hold of a black metal spear that came flying towards his face.
Grabbing hold of it, he leaped downwards, narrowly avoiding another swipe from above and parrying very quickly what looked like black chains striking at him with the speed of a viper when he felt the disturbing sensation of magic. Something struck him, blinding him momentarily followed by the crash of thunder. Much to his surprise, it hurt. Another blinding flash followed by the crash of thunder and then more pain.
'Magic. The fool's armed with magic.' Ranma realized as his eyes rapidly adjusted to the changes in light enabling to catch sight of the enemy.
A dozen winged humanoids (which briefly reminded him of angels) with skin as black as night and chains attached to each of their limbs were hovering in the skies. Their hands carried black metal weapons identical to those used by those skull-faced humanoids.
'One or more of them's using lightning spells. Go indoors. That way they won't be able to use it.' the voice suggested.
Without wasting anytime, Ranma smashed his way through the brick wall throwing himself into the darkness of the room, just in time to avoid what appeared to be another burst of electrical energy from the skies.