Posted: Monday 11 June 2012
Disclaimer; This fanfiction uses existing ideas, characters and or worlds, but is an independent work of art. I own nothing, hence the reason for publishing my writings here instead of in real books where I could make some money.
Scourge of the Goa'uld
Chapter Four – Kobushi (part I)
It had been a long journey, two weeks in fact, and Ranma was getting stir crazy from being cooped up in the small part of the large ship he could venture into.
As long as the ship was moving, the drones would not be able to work on the ship due to lack of materials to build from and the danger of micro meteors knocking them away. And while in motion, the ship's scanners worked more in a tunnel manner than in a sphere, due to the level of repair the ship was in, so it was barely enough to avoid space-borne objects directly in the ship's way. Something small might slip by close enough to escape detection or into knock protruding objects, but far enough away to avoid fatal collision with the pressurized areas.
To pass the time, Ranma had done many things; He had watched the passing stars and other objects through the monitor that covered most of the wall in front of the command chair, he had done kata and made attempts at improving them, he attempted meditation, he started writing a journal, doodling various ideas, and tinkering with making a bottomless gun clip based on the suggestions the sprite had gotten from its interface with the ship computer. He was close to making a working prototype, but it took too long for the bullets to reform due to the different chemicals and powders in the gunpowder and the different metal for the casing. If he could find a better way to fire the bullet without the use of gunpowder, the bullets might form much faster as they wouldn't need so many different things at once.
One possibility as a substitution for gunpowder was magnetic acceleration, but having no idea how to achieve this yet and not wanting to rely completely on the sprite, Ranma left the idea, along with his other ideas and doodles, stored in a private file on the ship computer. After all, there was no need to waste resources making a physical note pad or sketch pad when the ship computer could act as the same thing with some preparations.
The sensors had rejected two star systems already due to the lack of a planet with a habitable atmosphere for Ranma, but it had found one now. The problem was that Sleipnir might not survive re-entry.
"But I've gotta get out of here!" Ranma whined childishly. "All I've seen for the past weeks is the inside of this ship. The view on the monitor was pretty cool, but I need fresh air and solid ground under my feet!"
"Long range transporters have not yet been repaired," the sprite informed him. "But if you wish to go to the habitable planet so badly, you could leave the ship in orbit near the asteroid field between the fourth and fifth planet and use the glider sitting in the corridor to get to the planet. Meanwhile, the drones can finish repairs without problems and without using the materials in the storage room. To speed up the repairs, you could have two or three drones create more drones if there is a need. By the time we return, they might even have completed repairs."
"Sounds reasonable," agreed Ranma hastily in order to get out sooner. Action decided, Ranma started programming in a delayed reaction for the orders he left behind so the drones wouldn't start immediately and prevent him from making it to the glider before the seals broke.
The glider had received a thorough scan from the sprite, and discovered a hidden programming in the system that would return the glider to the home-world of Apophis at the fastest speeds the glider could achieve, which meant hundreds of years and certain death to the pilot.
Ranma was instructed on how to remove it, and while he was at it managed to increase the engine strength without robbing it of more energy. It simply amazed Ranma how much the sprite could figure out while interfacing with Sleipnir's ship computer.
Preparing food for a few days, and packing his equipment, Ranma soon rushed through the door of the bridge into the corridor, and with the sprite's special method of opening doors, jumped into the cockpit of the glider.
The thing was much better to fly than any aircraft Ranma had flown before, as it ignored more Gs than man-made planes while not in space, and due to its propulsion systems it could stop and turn on a button. And the controls were much more instinctual than relying on knobs, buttons and switches.
Of course, the only experience Ranma had with flying the glider was from a few hovering sessions along the corridors of the ship, but compared to the previous aircraft he had flown, there was no doubt the Death Glider was superior.
He would still have to make alterations or improvements later, there were a few ideas of his that could make it better than it was in certain areas.
With a hiss of compressed air, the canopy sealed itself, and the sprite opened the doors leading to the decompression chamber.
Carefully, Ranma managed to inch the glider through the doors into the chamber, and the sprite closed the doors behind him.
"Removing chamber atmosphere," the sprite announced.
Ranma listened as a hiss outside the glider slowly faded away as air was sucked out of the chamber.
"Chamber atmosphere removed. Opening external doors."
Had the sprite not removed all air from the chamber, Ranma knew enough about vacuum that he was certain the glider would have been blown outside violently, just like in the movies when a spacecraft unexpectedly opened its doors to the cold vacuum of space.
With a lot more throttle than earlier, Ranma burst from the chamber with a whoop of victory, and watched in fascination as the wings spread not three seconds after being free of his metal prison.
A victory loop around the kilometer long ship was in order, taking care to avoid the belt of meteors and asteroids he had parked near enough not to have the ship drawn in by their gravity nor attract any debris.
Already, Ranma saw the doors closing, and knew that in moments, the drones would come outside with the larger re-sequencer and finish repairing the ship using the nearby asteroids and rocks as building material.
Knowing that things would not progress any faster with him buzzing in the way, Ranma set course for the second planet from the system star, which was the planet confirmed capable of sustaining life.
The flight took an hour, impressive compared to Earth standards, as the same journey would have taken almost five months with present level of shuttles and rockets available.
As they came into orbit, Ranma noticed that the surface of the planet was composed of a super continent; one large mass of land with only a few small islands dotting the deep blue water.
What puzzled Ranma was the clusters of light appearing on the shadow-side.
"Are those lights what I think they are?" asked Ranma curiously.
"The lights appear artificial in nature," agreed the sprite. "And their general closeness to bodies of water indicate some sort of civilization, but the question remains; how evolved is this civilization?"
"They're not Goa'uld, are they?"
"The ship scans of the system does not indicate any space-faring people," corrected the sprite.
"So they could be a people under the neglected rule of a Goa'uld," concluded Ranma.
"It is best to err on the side of caution," agreed the sprite.
Targeting a dark spot outside a large cluster of lights, Ranma started re-entry and activated the glider's shields.
Though he had never been to space, and thus never had to re-enter the atmosphere, Ranma knew what to normally expect, such as extreme heat due to friction caused by the air against the speedy intruding object. This did not happen. The shields completely negated the heat, and the only indication he left behind was a small gathering of vapor in his wake.
As he came closer to the surface, the radar-like sensors on the glider picked up air traffic nearby.
"I am picking up a communications signal similar to the radiation waves emitting from your 'radio' when you last demonstrated it to me," the sprite informed him. "Though it is on a different wave length."
"What are they saying?" asked Ranma, knowing this to be a serious situation.
"'Unidentified craft, you are in violation of seasonal air-space restrictions, please get into formation with us and be escorted to the ground or we will be forced to open fire.'
"We should probably do as they say," suggested the sprite. "It is not good to get off on the wrong foot with the inhabitants of the world one visits if there are no prior relations with them."
Looking out through the canopy, Ranma saw what looked like clumsy replicas of the Death Glider with a pair of tail fins at the back of the egg-like fuselage.
"I guess we can safely assume the Goa'uld have been here at some point," commented Ranma as he fell into formation between the two air crafts and matched their speed.
After a few moments of flying in formation, the other crafts guided Ranma to an illuminated spot of ground on the outskirts of town.
The landing was silent and flawless, though the two escorts shook a bit as they touched the ground.
Ranma's canopy slid open, and so did the ones of his escort.
The crafts were surrounded by soldiers aiming short staff weapons at him.
The apparel of the soldiers reminded Ranma of a mix between Japanese foot-soldier armor and WWI Allied soldier uniforms. The armor was still undoubtedly Japanese, but instead of being rigid in tradition, it had evolved to account for terrain and practicality.
"Raise your arms in the air and exit the craft!" a high pitched male voice commanded in an old Japanese dialect.
Doing as told, Ranma slowly stepped out, onto the right wing, and down onto the ground, his hands in the air but ready to act if it was necessary. While it was certainly possible, Ranma doubted these soldiers were as fast as he was.
"State your name, origin and business flying over Amenoukashi during the annual festival of the Death of Amaterasu!" the voice ordered next. Identifying the source was difficult as it reverberated all over the arena and was in the dark.
"I am Saotome Ranma, First Lieutenant of the United States Air Force, SGC program, Earth," announced Ranma loudly. Though it wasn't really in his nature, he decided to try some diplomacy. "I was not aware of any festival upon arriving. I have merely been traveling for a long time and wished to touch firm ground with my feet and breathe fresh air. I apologize deeply for trespassing against you and your culture."
A short and gangly man in more elaborate armor stepped out of the shadows and sized him up.
Ranma felt like a piece of meat being inspected for imperfections by a premiere chef, and he didn't much care for the experience.
"What manner of being are you to be flying the cursed craft of the dead god?" was the immediately asked question.
"I'm a man," Ranma stressed. "I stole this glider from under the noses of delusional creatures who believe themselves gods simply because of their longevity and superior technology. I mean you no harm, and will shortly be on my way."
"Men!" the man shrieked in authority. "Escort this visitor to the Council! They will decide what to do with him."
Though Ranma did not like the idea of going anywhere under armed guard, he did not want to start a war with an entire people after months of virtually complete solitude.
The sprite closed the canopy of the glider, taking them all by surprise, as Ranma had made no move to cause the action to occur. This only confirmed Ranma's earlier theory about him being the only one capable of seeing it.
"Shall we?" Ranma suggested and slowly lowered his hands.
The soldiers recovered from their surprise and followed the order issued by their commander.
Walking out of the landing spot's lights, Ranma was probably the only one able to see clearly where he stepped due to the illumination of the sprite which hovered over his left shoulder.
After a few minutes of walking in the dark, the group emerged into the city. The streets were lit with activity very similar to summer festivals back home; families all wearing their finest yukata and jinbei as they visited stalls, played games, ate food from vendors and had social interaction with each other and other families as they passed.
Ranma, being surrounded by armed soldiers who aimed their weapons at him certainly drew the attention of these peaceful citizens, and some mothers even held their children closer out of fear.
For his part, Ranma was sure his attire also had some sort of effect, given how strange it must seem. And the weapons attached to him certainly couldn't help.
What little architecture Ranma could glimpse behind the stalls in the pale light of overhanging lanterns reminded him of old Japanese buildings or various levels, and with a certain modern feel despite the strong traditional design.
One thing that stood out on their walk, though, was an Arena that looked like a mix between Ancient Romans and Ancient Japanese; lit up with spot lights as an object of pride.
Through the twisting and turning streets Ranma was escorted by at least a dozen soldiers, and suddenly Ranma found they had entered a building. It had happened so fast that he hadn't had time to get a look at the place, so any external design present was not noticed and thus had not given him any impression of what awaited him.
The inside walls were rice paper with artwork of phoenix, fish, dragons, samurai and even one of a pyramid floating in the air with rays of light emitting from all around it as though it was the sun.
Through twists and turns, Ranma was escorted down the corridors and up stairs until he was in a large room, otherwise plain if not for the wall decoration of a grand battle between samurai and Jaffa.
Sitting in one row on the ground along the back were twelve men and women alternately, obviously freshly arrived from the festival if their attire was any indication, and their expressions were grim.
"You are the intruder," stated the middle woman.
"Indeed I intruded, but not with ill intent," agreed Ranma.
"Had you not been detected, would you have announced yourself or would you have infiltrated our city?" the middle man continued, every bit as grim and stoic as the woman who first spoke.
"I would have stayed outside the city if I could," Ranma replied. "Like I said, I've traveled for a long time and wanted to breathe some fresh air and feel the ground under my feet again."
"From where did you travel?" the woman at the end asked. "Our defensive measures picked you up almost directly above us with no prior warning from the border stations."
"From space," admitted Ranma. "I come from a planet named Earth, which I guess is the home of your ancestors and mine, but on a trip to another world I got separated from my group and was unable to return to them. I managed to obtain transport and spent the last weeks in space."
"Do you expect us to believe that?" demanded the man on the other end. "We know that Hoderi has been working on a way to evade our detection for over a hundred years. Hoori may have already succeeded, but never admitted it. Kintarō never bothered with technology beyond weapons. Momotarō is hidden, so no one knows what they're doing, so tell us the truth!"
"I am!" Ranma snapped in return, forgetting diplomacy in a moment of indignation. Why was it that people always seemed to believe lies about him rather than taking him on his word?
"Please!" the first woman interrupted forcefully. "Let us not descend into behaving like children."
"He started it," muttered Ranma childishly.
"Regardless," the woman continued. "What proof do you have to support your outlandish claims?"
"Well, clearly my glider is superior to yours." offered Ranma, returning to a slightly humorous sense of diplomacy. "No, not good enough?"
"No, it could simply be an improved version. Hoori has been working on such a thing for ten years," sneered the man at the end.
"Then how about my clothing; do you wear stuff like this?"
"No, but this is the Science capitol of the world, we prefer pale colors and clothes that do not get caught or disturbs our work," countered the man next to the woman at the end.
"How about my weapons?" suggested Ranma and held up his MP5, to which the soldiers responded by activating their short staff weapons in threat of what would happen if he showed aggression.
"What manner of weapon is that?" the woman next to the man on the end asked curiously.
"Projectile," Ranma answered. "It uses a small explosive charge of powder in a metal container stuffed shut with a bullet made of whatever metal is convenient during the time of production, and a hard impact against the bottom of the container makes the powder explode, thus shooting the bullet out the tube that is the barrel. This thing can fire about twelve shots a second if not more and has an effective range up to a hundred meters, more in the hands of a professional. It can be switched to single shot, which is more accurate."
Ranma's lecture, while completely out of character for his old Nerima self was worthy of a weapon sales-person showcasing his wares and surprised the assembled people into momentary silence.
"Is this the same powder we use in fireworks?" asked the middle woman.
"In a way, only without the stuff that sparkles or glows and with some more stability," assumed Ranma, going from what little he knew of fireworks.
"So your weapon fires, what was it, twelve 'shots' a second?" continued the middle man. "What is their destructive capabilities?"
"That depends on the formation and size of the bullet. A hollow point can look small going into a target, but will blossom and grind the insides into paste if its soft enough. An armor-piercing shot has a small explosive in the nose of the bullet so that one's pretty self-explanatory ..."
"How about a demonstration?" the middle woman suggested. "The mechanics behind the weapon seems simple enough, but plain information pale in comparisons with a demonstration."
"If you've got someplace I can make some noise and do some damage without hurting anyone undeserving, then by all means, I'll give you a show," agreed Ranma. Anything was better than this gathering in this confined space with all these weapons aimed at him.
"You can't be serious?" demanded the girly voice of the soldiers' superior and stormed past some of his subordinates. "This man is an intruder, a possible enemy flying one of the cursed gliders of the gods and you want to give him the opportunity to fire his weapons without consequences? We are well within our rights to imprison him, confiscate everything and test them ourselves!"
"And if this man is telling the truth, then we would have destroyed every chance we have at an alliance with another world just as advanced as we are, if only in a different direction," countered the middle woman. "It has long been theorized that the evil goddess Amaterasu never died, but fled through the portal to the heavens with her demon minions. If this man is indeed from another world and did not arrive through the mythic portal, then there is a chance that the gods will return one day to enslave all our cities once more. It is a risk we cannot take lightly."
"Portal to the heavens?" asked Ranma. "Do you mean the Stargate?"
"Our linguists had the text concerning the mythic device translated into Portal of Heaven," mused the middle man. "But I guess there is a possibility they made some mistakes, after all, the language of the gods is unknown to us."
"There is a reason the device is a myth," argued the commander of the soldier squadron. "It doesn't exist, just like Amaterasu is a grossly exaggerated figure. She was probably just some inventor who paid for some hired goons to do what she wanted, and when she realized that she couldn't win, blew herself up, leaving no trace of her to be found and for legends to take root!"
"There is a large device made out of naquadah buried beneath the Arena we passed on the way here," inputted the sprite. "Given its shape and the presence of power crystals, it is highly likely that the Stargate is located there."
"If I could find the Stargate, would you believe me then?" offered Ranma quickly, before a discussion of theology, folklore and mythology versus reality could break out.
"Preposterous, the device has been lost for thousands of years," snorted the man on the end of the row.
"And how long has the arena been standing on top of it?" Ranma retorted, followed by gasps of surprise. "Scans of the area revealed a large object buried underneath the arena we passed earlier."
"What?" demanded the commander. "You mean to tell me that buried under the arena, which has been standing for five thousand years, is the portal through which the goddess Amaterasu fled when our ancestors rebelled against her tyranny?"
"This man is clearly insane," the commanded announced. "There is no reason to destroy the arena in order to investigate his claims!"
"I think you might have a point," mused Ranma. "There's no need to dig it up. In fact, I encourage you to keep it from being used for as long as possible. As long as no one can come through the Stargate, the Goa'uld will assume that this planet isn't a threat and leave you alone."
"What is a 'Goa'uld'?" the woman on the end of the row asked.
"It's a parasitic serpent that burrows into your head and takes control of your body," Ranma explained dismissively. "They like to pretend they're gods, but really only got powerful through technology they managed to scavenge from their unwilling hosts, or so I can only assume based on what I've learned of them."
"Then following your logic, it is likely Amaterasu was one of these creatures?" suggested the man on the other end.
"Makes sense," agreed Ranma. "The ones I heard about followed a different pantheon of gods, but what's to stop them from spreading into others?"
"This sounds grave," mused a man near the end. "If such an enemy were to turn its attention to us, we might not be strong enough to fight back efficiently."
"How large is this portal?" the man in the middle asked unexpectedly.
"Just small enough that the glider won't fit through it with the wings spread out," reported Ranma with authority of someone who knew what they were talking about.
"And where in the arena is the portal supposed to be?"
"A little off the middle. Why?"
"The ground under the center is only composed of dirt and dust, not really connected to the walls or foundation. I see no harm being done to the main structure if we were to unearth the portal," the man mused. "Though if it is as dangerous as you say, then some sort of block through the opening would be in order while we examine it. Just imagine what we could do with technology that advanced; our scientific knowledge could gain a huge leap ahead of the others!"
"You do not seriously lend credit to this tall tale?" exclaimed the commander.
"It has been a month since the last Gathering of Strength, it is almost a year to the next one, that should be ample time to explore the plot of land Saotome-san has pointed out," agreed the middle woman with the last speaker of the council. "If he speaks the truth, then it seems we have the possibility of an alliance on our hands to further our civilization, if he does not, then he will be buried where he claims the portal lies; as a warning to the other cities not to send more spies into our midst to uncover our progress for the next Gathering."
"We will begin excavation in the morning," continued the man next to the middle woman. "Until then, show our guest the hospitality of a comfortable room and a nice meal. Depending on our finds tomorrow, it might be his last ..."
Author's Notes: From what I have heard of history, in Asia before radio communications came into being it was quite common to have a commander with a high pitched voice leading troops, as a high tone carries better than a low one ...
I am aware of that the jinbei isn't necessarily for public use, but from what I could gather, some men use it as a more masculine substitution for the yukata during summer festivals.
The seemingly random names popping up are names for cities across the super continent, from Japanese folklore ... I know very little of this, so I might have used them incorrectly.
My explanation regarding firearms is possibly faulty or unimaginative.