I by far preferred this version
of the meeting between Baahnid and Ranma;
while not as action-filled and direct as the scene in draft 2, the conflict
was definitely there, but more subtle now, filled with dread and the sense of
forces greater than us. This time, there is only the tangential reference to
the human girl Baahnid once loved; once again, he had experienced a world with
characters who would have been familiar, yet unfamiliar, to us. And once
again, although not specified here, he did the forbidden and used the Spring
to achieve a human form which, while leaving him vulnerable, allowed him to be
with his human love. And what of Ranma? Why did he kill his Ranma? Well, he
blamed him, rightly or wrongly, for Kasumi's death way back when. That
backstory would have been explored later and had great relevance to how these
two would have clashed.
But once again Ranma was
set on the road to finding the City of the Dead in
the haunted Wastelands, where answers awaited him. Answers, if he survived.
So, again, a clear quest. And, again, a ship and crew to take him there.
So a word about some more
lesser known characters. Sonya, Kei, and Lou
(Lukish) are from a manga called Midnight Panthers, by Yu Asigiri. If you
know it, you can skip this next bit. It's a strange but fun little series
about a group of female idol singers in a post-apocalyptic world. They are called
the Pussycats, and they go town to town with their mentor, a wrinkled old hag,
putting on concerts for their adoring fans in their skimpy costumes.
Unbeknowst to the fans, though, these three women are actually the assassins
known as the Midnight Panthers. Sexy Sonya seduces her targets, preferring to
send them off with love before killing them. Lovely Kei is a shapeshifter who
turns into a panther and kills her targets, then eats them. Tomboyish Lukish
is very strong and immune to poisons and drugs, and thus gets stuck with the
monsters. Together they travel the land, giving good fanservice while
fighting and usually losing their clothes.
So why use these characters?
Not sure, really. I wanted to use some
characters who weren't in the spotlight, and I've never seen these three in
any fanfic. I liked the series; Yu Asigiri is a woman, and though sex was
prevalent throughout the series it was tasteful. Also, the plots were just
strange enough to be interesting, from the appearance of Lou's brother Bad
(and later, his twin, Sid, who always got possessed by Bad's ghost) to the
original Midnight Panther, to the weird relationship between the girls. Kei,
who always ate her male lovers before getting her pleasure, was always
frustrated and constantly fondled Lou (who protested, but as Sonya noted,
rarely fought back very hard). Sonya and Lou were another matter; Sonya's
kiss was the only thing which could reach Lou on two occasions when she was
being controlled. They fought like sisters, but always ended up coming
through for each other.
And a lot of their background was never explored, so I decided to use them.
After all, the idea wasn't to get Ranma to fall in love with Sonya as much as
to contrast her, a woman who'd been sold as a child and raised to use sex as a
weapon, with him, a guy from a straitlaced society who had no reason but
cultural inertia to hold on to his old beliefs. And of course, there was the
rest of the crew. For them to risk the hazards of the borderlands and the
wastes, they must all have had stories. Bad pasts to forget, or adventures to
seek, or just riches to plunder.
And the story continued pretty
much the same from there, as you see. But,
once again, and at pretty much the same spot, I stopped. This version I was
much happier with, but still I started to get restless. I ran out of steam,
even though I knew where the story had to go from there. It happens
sometimes, but I always thought I'd pick up from there again and keep going.
But I didn't. I ended
up giving the thing up in the end, not so much from
any feeling of inadequacy as that I just wanted to do something different.
More about that in the notes
for version 4.