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The Unbroken Circle: Intro

Durandall: Inspiration struck. Don't kill me.

Seriously, though, someone suggested I needed a 'hook,' and this came to me.

Disclaimer: The paints are Takahashi's, with some tinting added by myself. The easel is mine, too.

 

Play music here. Something soft and dramatic that builds, with ominous overtones, preferably industrial without vocals. If you have it, I suggest track #8, 'No More Mr. Quick,' from the Dark City soundtrack... unless you have the Fifth Element soundtrack in which case you want track number #23, 'Lakta Ligunai'.

 

[The screen starts off black. As the first notes begin to play, it lightens to a white screen, then pans down to reveal a clouded sky. As the intense music begins, we see a field of flowers stretching into the distance. Ranma, dressed in his standard Chinese clothing and a flowing cloak, floats above the ground as a sinister shadow crosses his face.]

(Ranma): We're all young once.

[The field of flowers is torn asunder, and flame begins to rain down as the sky darkens. Ranma smiles widely, and the scene fades out.]

(Older Ranma) sounds very tired: And youths make mistakes.

[The scene reveals an older Ranma, probably aged thirty. He is wearing a black trenchcoat, which is open and billows behind him. Underneath the coat, he is wearing loose fitting jeans, and a black silk shirt with a gold dragon embroidered on the chest. His expression is grim, and behind him, we can see Tokyo at night, fading in the distance.]

(Older Ranma) bitterly: And history repeats itself.

[The city shimmers, and is replaced by the day-lit Tokyo of four hundred years ago. Older Ranma glances back at it and sighs, then turns forward and begins walking again.]

(Chame) neutral: But... not all mistakes need to be repeated. Sometimes...

[The scene fades away, and we see a young redhead with a pair of braids (Chame), standing between her parents. Her mother can be seen dimly, but her face is obscured, and nothing can be seen of the father.]

(Chame) sounding hopeful: Sometimes, we get a second chance.

[The scene changes to the younger Ranma, facing off against something off-screen. He shouts something, raises a staff to strike, and then there is a flash of light. The light fades, and Ranma is pulled, screaming, into a black vortex.]

(Younger Ranma) wistful: Sometimes, you find a blessing where you expect a curse.

[Young Ranma falls out of a hole in the sky, and floats over a spire of stone, confused. Screen fades to black.]

(Ryouga) tired: Sometimes we see curses where there are blessings.

[A muddy field, with a farmhouse in the distance appears. Ryouga snarls defiantly, and wields his umbrella against an opponent that cannot be seen. Akari stands in the background, hands clasped together. She looks both confused and hopeful.]

(Akari) neutral: Sometimes, you miss that. Sometimes, bitterness blinds you.

[The camera zooms out, to reveal Ryouga's opponent. He is fighting a mirror image of himself. The scene flashes bright red for a moment, then the red dribbles away like blood, leaving a black screen.]

(Older Ranma) determined: But this doesn't mean we give up. We have to keep trying, to stop making those mistakes again.

[Younger Ranma is holding a quarterstaff in both hands, and grins. Behind him is a field of yellow. For a brief moment, a dragon appears in silhouette behind him, looking away. Ranma spins the quarterstaff, tracing a flaming circle in the air in front of him.]

(Younger Ranma) amused: But is this any reason to worry? We can always try again.

[Everything but Ranma and the flaming circle fade out.]

(Older Ranma) neutral: And more mistakes are made, in the course of trying to resolve the old.

[Older Ranma appears on the screen next to younger Ranma, and glares at him. Younger Ranma laughs, oblivious. The screen flashes, and younger Ranma disappears, taking the circle with him. Older Ranma turns to face the screen, and a dragon appears behind him, placing a claw on each shoulder and looking forward. The screen fades to black again.]

(Older Ranma): And the circle does not break.

[Herb appears, and glances at younger onna-Ranma, looking guilty. Onna-Ranma glares at him. Lime and Mint appear briefly, then the Musk fade, leaving onna-Ranma alone. She sinks to her knees and stares downwards. The scene fades away, leaving only a field of black.]

(Akane) concerned: But... suppose, just suppose... that the circle _can_ be broken.

[Akane appears, wearing silk pants and shirt. She fights off hordes of blurry opponents, an aura of bloodlust radiating from her. A spinning silver hammer flies across from one edge of the screen, leaving blackness behind.]

(Shampoo) confident: And if the circle _can_ be broken...

[Shampoo appears, in chains, standing before a jury. They all look at her disdainfully, then shun her. She sinks to her knees, and pleads for mercy, but is ignored. She fades away, and a golden quill pen shoots across the scene, bringing blackness with it again.]

(Ukyou) grim: _What_ must be done to break it?

[Ukyou stands on a rocky outcropping, facing a huge demonic figure. She grins, and raises her empty hands over her head. A wave of fire pours forth, and engulfs the figure. The wave then sweeps across the screen, returning us to the familiar blackness.]

(Akane Shampoo and Ukyou) in unison: And _who_ can break it?

[The screen flashes white suddenly, and we see Ukyou and another woman who looks familiar standing on either side of Shampoo. Behind them is a circle of nine white lights. Each light forms a silhouette of a face for a moment, then fades.]

(Older Ranma): And when _you_ cannot break the circle, but it _must_ be broken, who can help you?

[The uppermost light in the circle expands, as the three women watch it warily. After a flash, a young woman descends from it, and stands near the others. Each of the first eight lights does this in sequence, until the last, which simply fades. All of the women stare at it with disappointment.]

[The first woman to descend from the lights steps forward, smiling softly. She appears kind and gentle. She makes a gesture, and her hands glow with a silver light for a few moments. The glow runs off her hands, and spells the kanji for her name, 'Megumi.' An invisible breeze blows around her hair as she steps back, still smiling.]

[The second woman is short, with dark hair. She smiles wickedly, revealing a small set of fangs, and whips a sword from its scabbard, carving her name over Megumi's. Megumi's name fades, leaving 'Yoiko' behind. She smirks, and gives the screen an arrogant look. Her hair is close cropped, but rustles in the breeze, and she steps back to join Megumi.]

[The third woman is tall, with long brown hair. She seems serene, and floats a few inches above the ground. With a soothing gesture, she wipes away Yoiko's name, and her own forms in its place, 'Akemi.' Smiling, she drifts to the other women before the breeze touches her.]

[The fourth woman appears, medium height, with average length brown hair. She gives a predatory smile, and holds out a hand, palm up, in a familiar gesture. After a moment, a ball of flame appears over her hand, and she casually tosses it at Akemi's name. She turns her back to the screen as 'Noriko' is burnt into it.]

[With a look of irritation, the fifth woman steps forward. She is of average height, and has long black hair. She wipes away Noriko's name, and produces a brush. Painting carefully, she signs, 'Kyoko.' After that, she smiles, bows to the screen, and backs away to join the other women.]

[A fair woman with green hair follows the others, then smiles brightly at the screen. She produces a fencing sword, and removes Kyoko's name before carving, in a series of strange symbols over it. The hiragana for 'Raimi' appear next to the symbols after a moment. She smiles pleasantly, then saunters over to the other women.]

[The seventh and eighth women arrive together. Identical twins, they wear purple Chinese dresses, and wield bonbori and Chinese swords. The two stand back to back, and juggle the weapons around. It's difficult to tell who is wielding what. Raimi's name disappears, and a yin-yan symbol appears between the two. One half is labeled 'Li-Yin,' and the other half is labeled 'Li-Yan.' It spins, as though uncertain which of them is which. They smirk at each other, and rejoin the other women. The screen flashes through the spectrum, then settles on black.]

(Younger Ranma) : But then, it may not matter, since we can always try again...

[Older Ranma faces off against a large shadowed figure. He carries a quarter-staff in his right hand, which he holds crosswise in front of him. His left hand holds a tachi, as he glares at his enemy. Motes of light begin to rise from the ground around him. The eight young women surround Ranma, arms raised, but he shakes his head, looking at a gap in the circle where a ninth woman could stand. The screen fades to black, as the women fall, one-by-one, to an unseen force, while Ranma rails against his enemy.]

(Older Ranma) angry: Eternity isn't long enough, if you're searching for something that doesn't exist.

[Chame stands still, then looks over her shoulder, confused. She fades, to be replaced by younger Ranma, walking down a road and searching for something. He fades, revealing older Ranma looking into a mirror for something he cannot see.]

(Older and Younger Ranma together): And until then, the circle remains unbroken.

[In a flash, the title appears at the top of the screen. Younger Ranma is in the foreground on the left, and older Ranma is on the right. They slowly shrink to the background, as Ukyou, Shampoo, and Akane appear in the center. The Ranmas glance at each other, and scowl, as the eight young women appear behind Akane, Ukyou, and Shampoo. The fiancees all stare at the young women behind them. Ryouga and Akari stand together near younger Ranma, and Chame stands in the middle, looking at older Ranma. Dr. Tofu appears, wearing a billowing gray cloak, and places one hand on the shoulder of Kasumi, who carries a gleaming, white-bladed Katana. Dr. Tofu produces a matching black blade, and then they stand on either side of older Ranma.]

[The title shapes itself into a circle, which hangs above the cast as the remainder filter in. Nodoka stands above Kuno, who shies away. Nabiki stares at the young women apprehensively. Kodachi stares at her feet, while Cologne shakes her head sadly. Tarou stands next to the younger Ranma, staring at Akane with concern. Mousse opens his eyes slowly, and turns his back to everyone, to face younger Ranma. Herb and the Musk look between the two Ranmas, uncertain. Genma and Soun turn to face the younger Ranma, while Happosai stares at Cologne. Between them, Kumon Ryu steps out of a pocket of blackness, carrying a furled bolt of cloth. A moment later, a young green-haired woman wearing a blue tunic with a yin-yang symbol on the front joins him, whirling a naganita with a smirk before the two turn to face older Ranma.]

[As the final notes of the song die out, the screen fades to black for the final time.]

***

On the outskirts of Tokyo, a train glides across the rails towards an outer ward. It is late, and there are few passengers. One of them, a man of about thirty years of age, lets his eyes drift closed.

He wears finger-less gloves, with holes to reveal his knuckles. After a moment, he folds his arms, and puts his hands in the opposing sleeves of his trench coat. It's black, and ends just below his knees. Underneath the coat, a pair of jeans can be seen, and lower, a pair of sturdy boots.

The boots, however, have an odd strap running around each of them, for no readily apparent purpose. Opening his eyes, the man glances out of the window. The ward he was headed towards lay beyond the pane of glass he gazed through.

A flash of light erupts from the ward. Then another.

The man stands. He knows what is happening. He knows he is about to make a mistake.

But he leaves the train when it stops, and walks forward, ready to make the mistake anyway.

As he steps into the rain, he blurs, shifts, and shrinks slightly. Yes, you know this one. She gives a grim look, and brushes a damp lock of red hair out of her face as she marches forward. "It is time." The straps on the boots tighten, shifting to fit correctly on the now smaller feet, and elastic bands in the rest of the clothing kept them from slipping.

She stalks off into the night, reflecting on the events that brought her here. In the distance, the eruptions of light are coming faster, and more brightly.

This, then, is his/her story. The story of the Unbroken Circle.

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Author's notes:

The Unbroken Circle is hosted at: http://ranma.stassen.com/uc/

Send any questions or C&C to brian@azurite.org or bauhamut@softhome.net


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