When Cologne came to, she was lying on a hard surface, on her back.
She could feel all of her limbs, but careful probing told her, that they did not move. She could move her facial muscles, her eyes and mouth, but could not turn her head to look around. She knew a similar state, that could be induced by a pressure point, but it had been decades since she had last endured it.
While she was staring at the ceiling, she suddenly heard Ranma's voice in the room, almost as if he had heard her thoughts.
"You know, Cologne, somehow it's funny," said Ranma in a conversational tone, "how your superior knowledge of ancient shiatsu techniques proved to be your weak spot in the end."
"What have you done?" Cologne asked, trying to look in the direction of his voice. "One minute we were fighting, suddenly I'm here."
Ranma made a 'shush!' noise and continued, ignoring her question. "You failed to grasp the possibilities in modern science and medicine. They have developed their own 'pressure spots' quite far. It was a simple throwing star, laced with a chemical that I couldn't even spell, that led to your current position. Don't try to strain yourself - the paralyzation drug is quite potent, as I know from my run-ins with Kodachi. It takes away all muscle control below the neck, while leaving you conscious and feeling."
"What do you want?" asked Cologne, dreading the answer.
"Now, Cologne, really. Are you reading from a B-movie script?" Ranma sounded almost amused, now. "What a clicheed question to ask."
Cologne hoped that he still lacked imagination, like he had, back in the old days. He might be content to have captured her and didn't know what to do with her now, so he came to taunt her.
Then Ranma spoke again, and Cologne's hopes dwindled. He spoke with ice-cold undertones in his voice, that told her not to get her hopes too high. "You know quite well, why I have you here, paralyzed and fully conscious. With some imagination, you might even get a picture what I have planned, now." He paused. "You really thought you had broken me, didn't you?"
Cologne maintained silence.
The old Amazon was not surprised that there was a fist of steel beneath the glove of civilized conversation. She answered him.
"Yes. I never thought you would recover, let alone attack me."
"And you certainly didn't think I'd succeed, if I tried. You made a mistake there. I don't know how you could believe that I was still the same reckless, stupid boy, that I had been, when you went back to China with Shampoo. What happened, that made you seek revenge in this way?"
If not for her iron self-control and her determination not to show any weakness, Cologne would have flinched at this. "You have certainly changed during my absence - I can see that now. You were not this perceptive back in the old days. Shampoo and Mousse married; But that was just the beginning. It was one aggravation after the other: I was attacked for our failure, then declared unfit for the post of an elder warrior. Then Shampoo and her husband detailed our exploits in Japan. The little beast knew exactly that some of our deeds were direct violations of the amazon code - the very law we had set out to keep. I was practically outcast."
When she heard him speak again, Ranma sounded thoughtful. "Shampoo and Mousse married. That's pretty good news. I would tell you to remind me to congratulate them..." She could practically hear a cruel little smile form on his lips. "But then, I wouldn't want to give you any undue hopes."
Ranma sat down on the table next to Cologne's prone form. Now she could see him for the first time - and what she saw, she didn't like. His bruises from their fight, were already going back. That meant he must have kept her under for some time, before she awoke. He didn't look at her, yet, when he began to speak again.
"That shows me, that Shampoo was the stronger one of you two, in a way. You had lost - and she was strong enough to accept it. She didn't come back for revenge. Cologne," he leaned very near, almost speaking into her ear. "thinking you had broken me was your second mistake. The first one was to touch Akane."
Whatever hopes Cologne might have had until then, they vanished, when she saw his eyes. There was a fire in his eyes, that she had never seen there - had seldom ever seen anywhere. She knew this fire would not die before these eyes had seen her burn.
"When you killed my wife - my pregnant wife - I knew that I could break. All the pain would stop, if I lost my mind, or just went numb or anything like that. But I knew, if I did that, I would hear your cackle at the back of my mind for the rest of my life. So I chose to keep the pain; Use it to stoke the flames of anger that powered the steam engine of my revenge."
He laughed. "Heh, I'm talking in bad metaphors. You really bring out the worst in me. Anyway, I played the numb zombie pretty well, I think. I'm sure you must have monitored me, to wallow in your perceived victory."
Cologne had. Even thinking back now, she could not identify anything in Ranma's behavior that could have warned her. He had acted well.
"It was Akane who taught me patience. One would not think she could have, the way she tended to explode in our younger years. But she did. She taught me that patience can be a weapon, if used right, and I rather think I did." There was a hint of tears in his voice, as he spoke of his late wife. "It was the memory that she gave me patience, that enabled me to keep the facade up, while working on my revenge. It took me so long to think up a plan to get you, and even longer to get my hands on the right drugs and have this room set up for our 'meeting'. But the memory of Akane helped me whenever my patience threatened to run out. For her sake, I would not - could not - break."
Ranma changed tones, and sounded almost conversational again. Cologne knew that the end of his soliloquy neared. "You know, while I was surreptitiously collecting information about all the various poisons I could use to paralyze you, I felt a little reminded of biology class, back in school. I didn't learn much, back then; I didn't have the patience for it - yet. But I remember that I was quite astonished once, when we were talking about the human anatomy. We were examining the bone structure, and I distinctly remember that I was very surprised about the nuber of bones in the human foot. A strange thing to remember, isn't it? I don't even remember how many there were, I just know that they were lots more than I would have thought."
Suddenly he brightened up, as if having a sudden idea. Cologne would have shuddered, if she could, for she saw the fire in his eyes again, burning maliciously.
"How about if we find out together how many they are?"
Ranma knew that the room they were in was well soundproofed, and nothing could be heard outside, but he was content, knowing that he could hear the screams. The screams of someone being broken.
Back to my Ranma ½ page.