Chapter 3: "When in Osaka, do as they do."
Kami no ko wa kami (revision 3)
DISCLAIMER: When you were young and your heart was an open book, you used to say "live and let live". You know you did, you know you did, you know you did. (slap) oh yeah. Naoko Takeuchi hath chronicled the tales of the sentai team of Sera Myun, Rumiko Takahashi did Wild Horse 1/2, Zeus and the rest of that pantheon by a bunch of dead Greeks, El Hazzard by Pioneer, weird twisted ideas and take on the whole thing by firstname.lastname@example.org, feedback by many fine readers, and the role of Marvin the Talking Mouse is played by Zinfadel Throckmoddle. Heidi Klum provided by Shugo Faux.
"What's that sign say? 'Abandon All Hope Ye Who Pass Through This Portal'? No way. I'll never abandon Hope, he's one of my favorite comedians." - an unnamed Bamf.
Minako Aino was brave. Minako Aino was stronger than she looked. Minako Aino had some training in the Anything Goes Style of Martial Arts. Minako was cute and perky and rarely phased by anything she went through for very long.
Minako Aino screamed and tried to back away from the nine foot humanoid critters menacing her.
Minako was not fond of mutants that looked like they could have stepped out of "Fist Of The Northstar". While she was among the first to admit that she liked guys, she sort of drew the line at guys that could be poster boys for "gamma irradiated Human Growth Hormone candidates." She was picky that way.
One of the big creatures began motioning with his spear towards her, then shifted his grip to slam it forward.
Minako started reacting with speed and strength she didn't know she had. (Amazing what could happen when adrenaline was flowing through your veins to the exclusion of blood.)
Grabbing the polearm behind the blade as it stabbed forward, Minako shifted her weight on it, bringing it down. Her long, lithe, legs - what she considered one of her best features, swept up in a modified gymnastics dismount.
Minako's legs slammed into a misshapen head with enough force that the average thug in Japan would have been in slumberland before he hit the ground. She blinked a couple of times at the creature, noting that it had barely noticed.
It grumbled something, shrugging her off and tossing her to the side. The spear came up again.
Ranma landed on the ground and saw the big fellow about to spear Minako. While the spear meant these were likely intelligent creatures, they were also trying to kill a friend. Ranma rarely went all out. For one thing, he had a touch of his father's temper. Not Genma's. Controlling that temper had become a lifelong habit.
Still cradling the sleeping Ami, Ranma lashed out with his other arm. Humanoids started flying about, some coming apart as they did so. Even so, it didn't take long, burdened with trying to protect the precious cargo, for Ranma to get surrounded. He got ready to drop Ami, as he could stand over her and protect her, when he noticed she'd wrapped herself around his arm and was holding tight.
Minako Aino, seeing one of her best friends as well as her prospective boyfriend/fiance (her father had talked to Nodoka Saotome, and it sounded like there was agreement to the idea) about to go down, reacted.
Haruka Ten'ou groaned in pain.
A memory flitted back, following her rival/nemesis Ranma into that hole, seeing planets lined up in a row, then popping into one of them. Then a long fall. Very long. Ending where she'd caught a quick glimpse of some sort of airship that looked like it had come from a Miyazaki film.
Haruka tried to move. After a few moments of effort, she gave up. No feeling below the neck. "So my quest for vengeance ends like this... CURSE YOU SAOTOME!"
"Vengeance quest? That's no good. Not good at all, no."
Haruka blinked and looked at the ceiling. She didn't feel strong enough to lift her head. That voice had not been one she recognized. A boy, perhaps younger than herself. "Who's there? What have you done to me?"
"Put you into bed, I have, nymph."
"I KNOW THAT MUCH!" Haruka tried to shout. The effort caused blackness to swim at the edge of her vision. What was a nymph, anyway?
"Here," came the voice gently.
Feeling a cup at her lips, Haruka opened her mouth slightly to allow a thin trickle of liquid within. Then she felt a cloth wipe at the dribble.
"You're lucky you survived, whatever you are then."
"Lucky," growled Haruka. "Lucky to be paralyzed damnit!"
"Lucky on several counts," the voice said. "I can't heal your injuries, but I know people who can. If you had died, I would simply have said a prayer over your corpse and thrown you over the side."
"Heal?" Haruka repeated, feeling some hope begin to blossom. If she was with a doctor maybe this paralysis was temporary?
Haruka could hear something moving around, it sounded like plates or something moving against each other.
The voice continued. "You look like some kind of nymph but you're a little off. Not sure *what* you are, but we'll talk more when you've had a chance to heal some."
"Uhmmm," Haruka managed, wondering again what a nymph was.
"Don't worry. We'll be setting into port soon."
Akane began chortling and finally had to wipe her eyes from laughing so hard. "Those idiots actually didn't think I was dead, did they? Oh this is too rich. You always have to kill a master villain TWICE!"
It took quite a bit to get Genma and Soun to drop their running about from treasure heap to treasure heap. That evil insane laugh qualified.
If Soun thought there was something strange about hiding from his youngest daughter, he wasn't dithering about the details. From behind the mound of coins that Genma was hidden within, he observed the red glow that limmed her body. Soun noted the way his youngest daughter's hair had briefly swept up as if in a strong wind. "Uhm, Akane, are you feeling all right?"
"Akane? Yes. That is my name, isn't it? Heh. Little girl had no self control, no self discipline, and darn little in the way of resistance to a mental assault. Simply attack her core, in this case pride, and let her anger wash away her own pathetic barriers. Hardly a challenge for a certified genius, wouldn't you say?" Akane turned to smile at the two men. "My name, however, isn't really Akane. It's Kefka."
"Incompetent idiots, once again I am surrounded with such." Akane let out a deep breath, then did her best "cute and perky" imitation. "Gee gosh gollie! We're going to need to get this gold and stuff to safety, won't we?"
"Uhm, yes, I suppose so." Soun looked very uncertain about this change of behavior.
Akane held the cute pose for a few moments, then gave it up as a lost cause. "Aw screw it. I'm leaving. You two won't even make decent minions."
Watching Akane abruptly fade out of view, Soun blinked repeatedly for a few moments. "Saotome. What just happened?"
Genma responded immediately and honestly. "Haven't a clue, Tendo."
Kasumi Tendo whimpered a little in her sleep. She'd fallen, fallen a long distance with only a blue expanse beneath her.
The only other thing she'd seen was some bird nearby, and her current companion - that guest with the green hair who'd come by to see the Saotome boy.
Kasumi had heard that companion scream something inarticulate and start gesturing for Kasumi to look behind her. Kasumi had managed to twist around just in time to see jaws that she could likely stand in approaching at high speed.
Kasumi unclenched as she realized that she was lying on furs, not inside some big carnivore's stomach. Slowly she opened her eyes.
She was in a cave, lit by sunlight streaming in through several gaps. She was actually lying on scattered furs, of what looked to have been a really big animal. There were pools of water lying about, and her companion with the green hair was still quite obviously out of it.
The eldest Tendo daughter silently got up and began exploring. The cave was natural, for the most part, though it showed signs of having been worked. Some of the openings looked to have been clawed through the stone, while others had stones fitted and mortared into place to make them smaller.
The pools of water were mainly shallow indentations in the floor that had no proper drainage. The exception was a deep trench very close to the "bed". The waters were very cold, very dark, and very deep from what she could see.
Going to the opening, Kasumi noticed a ledge of tall grasses about the size of the dojo's interior, though with sheer cliffs all around. The water below was broken by a number of rocks, and was at least a fifty foot drop. The opening itself was nearly half the width of the cave and was taller than it was wide. The cave itself was larger than the entire Tendo house, though Kasumi thought that maybe it being so empty made it seem larger than it was.
Kasumi then finished inspecting the cave. Something bothered her about this that took a few moments to penetrate. It was too clean. There were no bugs, very little dust, and no dirt to speak of.
"Tendo-san?" The blue-green haired girl stirred herself. "Where?"
Kasumi looked around again briefly. "A cave overlooking a cliff. We were never properly introduced, by the way."
"Oh," said the girl, slowly making her way around the pool. "Uhm. I'm Michiru Kaioh, Tendo-san. How did we get here?"
"I woke up here myself, Kaioh-san." Kasumi sighed. She'd wanted to get out of the house more often. This was not exactly what she had in mind.
Shadows shifted at the entry to the cave, and something large and heavy thumped down nearby.
Kasumi began backing up into the rear of the cave, while Michiru started backing up to the
The head poking into their cave was long and full of teeth, a cross of reptillian and mammallian characteristics - but really fitting neither.
"Oh my," Kasumi said as the huge animal moved into the cave.
Michiru looked around for a weapon, found a rock that would require both hands to lift, and hefted it. It weighed perhaps twenty pounds. Looking over the winged form entering the cave, Michiru kept holding the stone but wondered how the heck she'd manage to use it. She took two steps back as she evaluated the threat potential of their new room-mate.
The creature was clearly over fifty feet in length, with thick armored scales and long teeth and claws. It looked fairly strong as well. It was moving slowly, however, so perhaps she could outrun it. If there were a place to run *to* that is.
The beast sniffed a few times, then the head whipped around faster than she'd have thought to regard Michiru directly.
Involuntarily, Michiru Kaioh took a step backwards. Only to remember suddenly the presence of that pool of water there.
A moment later and she realized that it was indeed VERY cold water and that holding on to a large heavy rock while sinking rapidly into those waters was not a good idea.
Kasumi saw her companion fall backwards and splash. Then that large creature shot its head, jaws open, into that very pool. Kasumi came to the natural conclusion, and carried it over to the next step. Move and you attract its attention.
Kasumi became very very still.
Usagi Tsukino was easy to underestimate.
She had very little self-confidence, her traditional Japanese feminine skills were terrible, her school performance poor to say the least, and her self-confidence tended to bottom out regularly. She was clumsy, a crybaby, and had some bad habits (such as an eating disorder) that tended to disquiet the more traditional Japanese. Neither the sharpest tool in the shed, nor did she have useful contacts or money or power.
In another timeline, another world, she would have been either Sailor Moon or Princess Serenity, and successes against Dark Kingdom villains would have raised her self-confidence a bit. Here she had grown up without a Luna, transformation pen, or ginzuishou.
That said, Usagi was one of the friendliest beings in existence. Cheerful given half a chance, prone to periods of cockeyed optimism. She could make friends almost anywhere.
Remaining calm was *not* one of her traits.
She'd fallen, shrieking, having dislodged from the "clinging madly to Ranma" state about the time that Minako had seperated.
Groaning, Usagi was pleased to find the positive part of this was that she was alive. When one has expected to become a red smear, this is a definite step up. "Owie."
"It took two Cure Criticals, so she should be awake."
Usagi grimaced. Those voices didn't sound at all right.
"So, is she an elf? Or a nymph? Something tells me she isn't a Delphins..."
"No. Ears are wrong and she's not slender enough for an elf. Might be a nymph-crossbreed though. Most nymphs look identical to each other, you know. It's the crossbreeds that don't look like they were cast from the same mold. At least until they come into their full heritage."
Usagi tried to move. One voice was high pitched, like a young boy, but with a throaty quality. Boy with a sore throat maybe. The other voice was a woman's voice, old and scratchy.
Usagi's eyes slowly opened.
"Well, hello there," said an old woman who leaned heavily on a staff. Brown eyes twinkled with amusement and Usagi immediately found herself warming to this girl. "You gave us quite a start, falling from the sky like that and landing on our cargo. Good thing for you we were carrying sacks of flour. Well, that and that my current bodyguard is a cleric."
Usagi followed the woman's gesture with difficulty, noting that they were on some kind of ship. Her eyes, however, focussed on the figure hovering uncertainly nearby.
Wearing clothing that wouldn't have been out of place on an 1890s aristocrat, including the vest and jacket, a three foot tall humanoid mouse was consulting a pocketwatch.
The woman shook her head. "You know, I think she's human."
"Impossible! You know full well how rare humans are. Though she *does* resemble the vanished princess."
"Well, maybe we'll find out later." The woman shaded her eyes briefly. "I'm going below deck. A lifetime in dwarven warrens doesn't prepare one for air travel."
In a castle made of greenish stone, a man on a throne looked up and seemed to be checking the scent of the air. "Report."
Two figures faded into view. A tall male elf with dark skin and white hair touched fist to chest and bowed his head. "Lord Emperor. A pandimensional intrusion has occurred."
The Emperor leaned back in his throne. "I thought that Sjul had agreed to lay off the summonings."
"It did not originate with Lady Sjul," said the second of the Emperor's ninjas. "Indications are that it was not a 'pull' but a 'push' or so read the initial prognostications."
"I see," said the Emperor Guyin. "Well, determine how best to rescue them. They can be brought to the castle as soon as is deemed safe." Guyin paused. "There is something more?"
"My liege," the woman said with some hesitation. "There are complications."
Guyin briefly massaged his temples. "WONderful. What is it this time? Giant fungoid warriors? Gargantua? Evil Necromancers raising legions of the undead? Another trade dispute between the elves and the dwarves? Dance contest using dragons? Sadie Hawkins Race? Tell me it wasn't another Amazon Birthing Festival."
"Uhm, no, Emperor. Not quite so bad as that."
Emperor Guyin pondered for a moment. "Well then, how bad is it?"
Minako Aino, an ordinary high schoolgirl from Tokyo, collapsed in exhaustion. She wasn't completely sure *what* had happened.
Ranma stared. Ami stared.
The orcs and ogres weren't staring. The ones who were still alive were running as if "schoolgirl from Tokyo" were synonomous with "extraordinarily deadly force from beyond."
In some series, it was.
Ranma was first to recover, picking up the gore spattered Minako and wondered HOW and WHAT briefly.
"That was very strange," Ami said, still clinging to Ranma without registering it. "Mina-chan was...?"
"I don't understand it myself," said the strongest boy in Japan. "She seems OK now. I wonder if it was something like hysterical strength or maybe it was a chi technique."
"Like Ukyo?" Ami thought about it. Ukyo had learned some impressive techniques and could move faster than Ami had ever seen someone move before, mainly as a counter to Ranma's strength and durability in order to keep up with her "big brother" and their sparring sessions. "That would explain why she collapsed then, she used up her reserves."
Ranma straightened, Ami still clinging to his upper arm and shoulder, Minako in his arms. "I thought I saw a stream over there. Let's get this mess cleaned off of her, then try to figure out where we are."
"'Not in Kansas'," quoted Ami, abruptly realizing where she was and sliding off to the ground.
Haruka slowly awoke, aware immediately that she was *hurting*. That was actually a good sign, though. She wiggled her toes and felt relief. Not paralyzed.
On more than one occasion, her fights with that damn Ranma and his freakish strength had caused her to worry about permanent injuries. For example, when she'd tried to clobber him with a wrecking ball, he'd bounced the ton of metal back at her. The crane she'd been in had almost become a coffin.
Or when she'd tried throwing that basket of poisonous snakes on him. THAT had turned out very badly, but then she'd met her angel. Michiru Kaioh had been the one to delicately suck the venom out of her wound. Which was why Haruka Ten'ou had decided that Michiru Kaioh would be the 1000th girl whose lips she would claim, and then Michiru and she would be a couple. All the other girls would just be practice for the relationship between Haruka Ten'ou and Michiru Kaioh.
If it wasn't for Ranma. Ranma the freak. Ranma the destroyer. Ranma the seducer of innocent women. Ranma Saotome, who kept somehow surviving and engineering (in his falsely innocent apparently coincidental manner) circumstances for Michiru to discover Haruka in what really were innocent though apparently compromising situations.
"RANMA SAOTOME, THIS IS ALL *YOUR* FAULT!"
"Ah, so better you are," said that familiar voice.
Haruka groaned as she levered herself up and got a good look at her benefactor.
Haruka was one of the toughest martial artist women in Japan, having a combination of natural talent and years of experience sparring against some of the other best martial artists in that island nation. It would have surprised more than a few to hear her scream.
A windswept spire of stone had someone posing dramatically on it, laughing an insane and evil laugh.
Three pieces of magicite, crystalized "espers" hidden in stuffspace where someone in the know could retrieve them. As well as a mysterious blue glowing vial and a small handgun.
"I LIVE! I am Kefka! Errr, Hojo. Errr. Akane! Saruman? Oh heck. How could this have happened?" The girl sat down and dangled her legs over the precipice. She also said something very coarse when one of her sandals, which had somehow managed to accompany her thus far, arced down towards a meeting with the rocks below.
Drumming her fingers on the rock, Akane considered, finally snapping her fingers and teleporting down to her sandal. "Of course! Why wouldn't other master villains get the idea of making a backup? Riding the threads of fate until finally everything came together for a comeback!"
Picking the sandal up, Akane frowned. "So who am I? Kefka, the scientist who solved the riddle of the espers and found how not only to kill them but crystallize them into a living death where their powers could be used by humans? Hojo, who helped to build the great reactors that tapped the very life force of the planet? Saruman who made a deal with the Lord Of Mordor?"
Akane considered as she slipped her foot into the errant sandal. "Well, that decision will take me awhile. In the meantime, a change of wardrobe seems necessary."
A worn gi and a pair of sandals, not to mention the pink panties or sports bra, were obviously not appropriate for this environment. One piece of magicite glowed as Akane focussed its power.
Her clothing shredded immediately, becoming a cloud of wispy fragments that briefly whipped around her before congealing once again. Now she was dressed in a tight halter top, with thick boots on her feet, and a pair of hiking shorts.
Unfortunately the hiking shorts had appeared on top of her head, which kind of spoiled the effect until Akane could put them on properly.
Now somewhat better attired, Akane looked about before deciding that the nearest source of magical power was THAT way. Why spend time accruing power of your own when murdering others and stealing *theirs* was so much more efficient?
Nabiki had been ready to make a long list of demands. She had been ready to shout and protest and complain. When she'd been turned loose finally, she'd picked up a stout club to defend herself with.
One of these hooded figures had said a word in some odd language, passed his hand in front of her face, and things had gotten a little strange after that. Her mind had gone sort of numb, the feeling being similar to what happened to your mouth not too long after the dentist gave you a shot of that stuff to keep you from feeling dental work.
She had an exhibitionist streak, which she usually indulged by wearing short-shorts, tight tops, and similar clothing. Standing up on a platform, stripping, then putting on some garments that looked as if they'd belong on a dancer in a "1001 Nights" tale wouldn't have embarassed her that much even without the numbness.
Even though she couldn't move her eyes (among everything else) on her own, Nabiki had continued to observe and analyze. The idea that she was going to be violated faded out after they had gone into the tents.
EVERYONE, including the riders she'd seen earlier, was actually a woman. And each and every one of the girls present would have spawned an idol club just from their near flawless appearance. Though they seemed cold and with a distinct lack of friendliness.
Nabiki was given water, and the amount she was allowed to drink carefully watched. Nabiki was marched into another room, where she was examined by yet another woman, this one much older than the riders.
Finally she was led to another tent, and stood there as several of these women and finally a few men took seats. Though she couldn't focus in on them, Nabiki could tell that they were some sort of gaijin with odd colored hair and strangely angled features.
"Stranger girl, she has offered insult," the middle aged woman said. "She bears the taint of darkness, and darkness surrounds her future. Walking an evil path, what should we do to her?"
"Train her as a dancing slave?" A woman's voice, sounding amused.
"She may be an Amazon," said a man's voice, though very feminine in inflection, "we may be able to sell her back to them."
"Turn her into a statue, then leave her in the desert." Another male voice, this one much rougher.
"There's an idea. No, Pfineas, not petrification. What about transformation? It's been a long time since we've used a faerie circle and turned someone into something useful." A woman's voice, thick with age.
"There *is* a stone circle nearby," said the first woman's voice, sounding speculative. "But what to turn her into?"
"No, no! A camel!"
"We've got enough camels, and we're not out to kill her. A tree would die out here. How about something useful to our Rebellion?"
"Hah! Not sure how much useful you can make with THAT as raw material. Maybe if we rip her soul from her body and use it to animate an iron golem?"
"Against the forces of the Empire? If we used an iron golem it would just be cheap labor and provide target practice. Hmmm. What about turning her into a dragon?"
"My Domination spell wouldn't last ten seconds if she was a dragon!"
"How about a landragon? A True Dragon is faster and more intelligent, but a landragon is more powerful and meaner!"
Nabiki began to get worried through the numbness.
"Well, well, look at that. Little Miss Mouth hasn't adapted to the Rules."
"WHAT?!" This was an odd chorus.
"An Outsider? Are you sure?"
"Yeah. Well, this complicates things enormously, doesn't it?" The old woman's voice was humorous. "A Polymorph is less certain. Even petrification might be only temporary."
"Why not turn her into something easy to transport, we'll decide later. This at least proves she's not a spy for the Empire."
OMAKE OMAKE OMAKE
OMAKE OMAKE OMAKE OMAKE
LEVEL: Earth 5, Sor/Wiz 5
CASTING TIME: 1 action
RANGE: Touch (rock appears next to caster)
EFFECT: Stone sphere 11' across
SAVING THROW: see text
SPELL RESISTANCE: None
"Stone now come ye to my call, hard and heavy and strong and tall."
While at first the spell may seem ludicrous, it was developed by the Delphins for ship-to-ship combat. A pebble of stone is placed where the mage can cast the spell, and the pebble becomes a perfectly smooth 11' sphere. The Delphins used them with catapults. It is also used when a mage has the high ground, or when a 10' corridor needs a roadblock.
Alternate versions include Sphere Of Ice, Sphere of Iron, and Sphere Of Bread (This last was developed by the Delphins mage Alphonse during his college party days. It doesn't taste good but is edible for the first two days. Nobody, including Alphonse, knows *why* the spell works, just that it does.)
Alphonse- Delphins Mage m
The mage Alphonse is famous in 7th Age Aramar for the creation of many potent spells. Unfortunately, he was not even vaguely competent as a spellcaster unless he was drunk. Drunk, however, he could create spells "on the fly" and modify existing spells to wondrous effect. Unfortunately, most of his spells created thus qualify as silly at best. Alphonse is credited with creating spells like "Wall Of Lint", "Sphere Of Bread", "Static Cling", "Alphonse' Wondrous Wedgie", "Summon Dust", "Pink", and "Minor Globe of Vulnerability".