Disclaimer - I do not own Ranma One Half or Mass Effect, those are owned by Rumiko Takahashi and Electronic Arts, respectively.
Here we go again, the next chapter. For those of you wondering, I do not plan on underpowering or upscaling anybody's abilities in this work. Ranma will be Ranma strong, but that does not mean its all smooth sailing for the crew. I will be planning on taking a page out of Erick Wujcik's book on dealing with overpowered characters. If you don't know who Erick is, google him, or wiki him, he was an awesome man, who passed away well before his time. For everyone who wants to know just how strong Ranma is, please read the review from Logan – Murder of Crows. Well done calculations on physical abilities. However, because Rumiko Takahashi said herself that Ranma and Ryouga are near evenly matched, I'm going with my gut on this. When you read comparisons to Ranma's abilities versus Ryouga, close the gap a little and bring Ranma closer to Ryouga's level and then you get my interpretation of Ranma in this fic. Now to address some other concerns:
Inverness – I hope it doesn't sputter out either. I make no promises, as my muse is fickle.
High Admiral Thorin – Ki/Biotics will be explained.
LeadStrategist - Ranma is age 28(212), Shepard is 29, Liara 106, and Tali'Zorah is 22, Jack is 22, Kasumi is 23, Ashley is 25, Jacob is 26, Joker is 28, Kaidan is 32, Miranda is 33, Thane is 37, no age known for Garrus, Wrex, Mordin, or Samara. Puts him within shipping range for a lot of characters, doesn't it?
Logan – Murder of Crows – We had a long and spirited debate. Practically three quarters of a chapter in length. Plus a silly, never-will-happen scenario I may include later as an extra for the readers.
Atlan – Why would he work for the Consort? She's already his client(Sha'ira is the consort).
DeltaBladeX – That would be telling... wait... so is this story... okay let's rephrase that to: that would be telling too soon.
Winged Golden Tiger – While I appreciate the support, you need to play Mass Effect. If you don't have a console for it then steal a friend's, if you don't have any friends who have Mass Effect, get new friends. And possibly beat up your current friends.
Ghoohg – Wild Effect was … interesting, but it did not inspire this work. I like to take my inspiration from the originals and work with my own ideas.
Chapter 2 – Meeting the Crew
Ranma stood easy, knowing full well that Jane's Turian friend was probably ready to put a bullet between his eyes. While he was waiting for Jane's response he kept most of his senses trained on the Turian, Garrus as Shepard had named him. He wasn't quite ready to test if he was bullet proof yet, and he was fast enough to dodge if he had to.
They stood there in the alley, gazing at each other for several long minutes as Jane gauged his response, her sparkling green eyes never straying from his own. He kept his smile up, and put his hands up in front of him again. Before too long, he could see the telltale signs of adrenaline leaving her system. Her shoulders relaxed and she cast a look over her shoulder to Garrus.
"He's okay," Shepard said, "check the area for any other of Saren's men."
"On it, Shepard," Garrus responded, lowering his rifle and quickly checking the alley for any possible threats. The Krogan with them snarled at Ranma before following the order, probably angry for being manhandled earlier.
Ranma felt a light tug on the sleeve of his uwagi and looked over his shoulder. The Quarian girl had moved up behind him, putting him between herself and the heavily armed people present. Her arms were folded protectively around her torso, with one hand reaching out from the self embrace to grasp his sleeve. She was peering just over his shoulder, still shaken up from the altercation just moments before. He turned to face her.
"Its okay," he reassured the girl, "they're friends, I think." He looked over to Jane, who nodded at his words. "You're safe now...um, I'm sorry, Chloe had said your name earlier but I can't remember." She was silent for a moment, her shining eyes piercing through the clouded glass of her visor, unblinkingly.
"Tali," She said after a moment, a plate on her helmet over her mouth lighting up as she spoke, "Tali'Zorah nar Rayya. Dr. Michel sent you?" Ranma smiled at her.
"Yeah, I helped her out a couple years ago," Ranma answered, "she hadn't realized that Fist had changed his allegiance, and things happened so quickly that she didn't have time to contact Shepard or Garrus."
"No threats around, Shepard," Garrus said, approaching Jane, "we should have come here first, everyone at C-Sec knows Fist likes this alley. The Salarians are all knocked out, the Turian over there is dead; he hit the wall like Wrex did earlier. I called in some back up from C-Sec to handle the cleanup." He couldn't keep the amusement out of his voice, looking down the alley as the Krogan, Wrex, approached. He grunted at Garrus' words.
"If he survived a hit like that, I'd be surprised," Wrex settled next to Jane, opposite Garrus, and managed to look intimidating, despite his relaxed posture.
"How?" Tali's awed voice took Ranma's attention once more. "How did you do that? It was... I've never seen anyone move like that. I couldn't see you move, and you were unarmed!" Jane appeared startled at that statement, despite the brief skirmish she had with Ranma just moments ago.
"Unarmed?" Jane asked, incredulous, "none of the weapons on the ground are yours?" Ranma shrugged at her, shaking his head. "What the hell would make you take on six armed mercenaries without a weapon? Are you insane?" Ranma bit out a laugh at the question.
"Nope," he smiled, "I'm just that good." Jane regarded him, nonplussed at his statement.
"Biotic training, then," she said, nodding to herself. Ranma shook his head.
"Not that I know of," Ranma said, shrugging. "Don't need any fancy implants to do what I do. Those things look like they hurt, I have a few L2 clients who come in for migraines."
"Clients?" Jane asked.
"I'm a chiropractor," Ranma gestured to his outfit, "a little out of style, but my mentor wore the same thing. I have a practice on the presidium, part of SACOP." Jane stared at him a little longer, before shaking her head.
"Okay, this is getting off purpose now," she said, "Tali, was it?" At Tali's nod, she continued. "I was led to believe you have proof that Saren led the attack on Eden Prime." Tali hesitated for a moment, before nodding.
"I do, I was trying to get protection," she offered. "I knew this information would get me into trouble." She moaned.
"I know you just went through a terrifying ordeal, but I need you to come with me to Ambassador Udina's office," Jane explained. Tali hesitated for a moment, before looking at Ranma, she tightened her grip on his sleeve, she had yet to let go.
"Please," she asked, "I know you're probably busy, but..." she trailed off, not finishing her sentence. Ranma gave Jane a look that said What are you going to do? Jane rolled her eyes.
"Ranma, would you mind accompanying us for a bit?" Jane asked. "I know you need to get back to your practice, but this is important, and its best if Tali feels comfortable." Ranma looked down at Tali again, and smiled. Raising his wrist, he activated his omni-tool and typed out a quick message before sending it to his clients.
"Looks like my schedule is clear," he said to Jane, "I can tag along, sure." Jane sighed in relief, sure that it would be easier for Tali to share her information if she felt safe.
"Okay, lets get going, then," Jane started walking down the alley, toward the exit, the others following behind her.
Ranma still felt Tali holding onto his sleeve, so he looked down at her, and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him with a gasp, and stepped back slightly, letting go of his sleeve. She looked away quickly, the hand that was gripping his sleeve now absently rubbing at her arm.
"Thank you," she said, as they followed Shepard onto an elevator, "If you hadn't come along when you did I might be..."
"Don't worry about it," Ranma said, "those guys didn't stand a chance." He leaned casually against one of the walls of the elevator. They stood in silence for a moment before Jane spoke up.
"You said you don't have any biotic training?" She asked, looking him over, probably checking for any hidden implants. Ranma turned his head and lifted his ponytail, showing off the back of his neck. The skin was flawless, no signs of any surgery.
"Nope," he answered simply, "just a lot of practice."
"What do you mean, a lot of practice? What you did, that was something that most biotics can't do. How did you throw that biotic energy, then?" Jane asked, pressing him for details.
"That? I'm pretty sure its not biotic," Ranma answered, scratching at the base of his ponytail "its a technique I developed when I was younger. Like I said, I'm a chiropractor, but I've also trained since I was pretty young in various martial arts."
"Martial arts?" Jane asked, skeptically. "That doesn't make any sense, if it was just martial arts, then anybody could do that. How do you do that technique, exactly?" Ranma was silent for a moment, as he thought about how to explain the Mouko Takabisha.
"When I was younger there was this guy," Ranma said, "his name was Ryouga, and he was a rival of mine. We fought a lot, but one day he came at me with a new technique called the Shishi Houkoudan. It used chi, life energy, to gather a dense ball of air, and throw it at your opponent. I tried to do the same thing, and I could reproduce it. There was a problem with it, though."
As he was explaining, Jane's skeptical look became more pronounced at the story.
"I'm not sure I believe you on the whole chi thing, but what was the problem?" Jane asked. Ranma shrugged, he knew most people didn't believe in magic and chi in his time, and with the level of technology, he was unsurprised that others would be skeptical.
"The problem was that the Shishi Houkoudan required a hard to maintain emotion: depression. I couldn't keep the right mindset for very long, so I had difficulty using that technique," Ranma explained. "I did some experimentation and found that I could use different emotions and still use the technique."
"Wait," Jane interrupted him, "you're saying that as long as you focused on a single mindset hard enough you could gather the air?" Ranma paused, and considered her words. It was pretty accurate.
"Yeah," Ranma said, "that's the long and short, I guess."
"Sounds an awful lot like biotics to me then," Jane said, "Asari can use them without implants, if they train and develop the ability." Ranma shrugged and smiled.
"Last I checked, my skin wasn't blue." The elevator door suddenly opened, and the greens and blues of the presidium welcomed them.
"Come on, we have to get to Udina," Shepard said, her tone making it clear that she was not ready to let the subject drop. The group of five made their way quickly through the presidium, Jane leading the way.
"How do you treat the L2 biotics?" Jane asked Ranma as they approached the embassies.
"That's not too hard, actually," Ranma answered, "there are several nerve bundles that can be pressed, and meditation exercises that help suppress the migraines." He shrugged, "acupressure can alleviate the migraines quickly, the meditation helps to reduce them over the long term."
"How does meditation stop migraines?" Jane pushed.
"There were studies over the years, but none of them ever really hit the mainstream," Ranma explained, "Most doctors just like to prescribe pain killers and move on to the next, but that's not a good answer. People who meditate often think different than people who don't." Jane raised a delicate eyebrow.
"I'm not a brain doctor, but from what I read, people who meditate often use different parts of their brain. The longer you do it, the better the results." Ranma said. "I've helped a few L2s over the last two years, and it seems to be working; they need the acupressure less and less."
"How much less?" Jane asked as they began to ascend the stairs to the Human embassy.
"Well, there are three that I've been working with," Ranma offered, "they all needed the acupressure about every other day, at first. Now one of them only needs the acupressure once a week, the others need it twice."
"I can see how that would be useful." Jane said, ending the conversation as the doors to Udina's office opened. The relaxed atmosphere the group had enjoyed was immediately obliterated by the high-strung Ambassador Udina.
"Shepard!" Udina shouted as they entered, "I've been getting reports and complaints. Firefights in allies and an assault on Chora's Den? You've put me in a very embarrassing situation, explain yourself." In the room stood Ambassador Udina and another man, he was black, wearing a System's Alliance navy officer uniform. The group shared a glance at each other before Jane answered.
"Self defense, Ambassador," Jane said, leaving out the fact that she instigated the fight in the alley with Ranma, "but I have what we need now." Udina deflated at her words.
"You have the evidence, then?" he asked. Jane nodded and stepped to the side, gesturing to Tali.
"Tali here has some information that Saren is trying to keep secret." She said. Tali glanced back at Ranma for a moment, he smiled at her reassuringly.
"I managed to salvage some data from a Geth's audio banks while I was on my pilgrimage." she explained, activating her omni-tool.
"Pilgrimage?" Jane asked, not sure what she meant.
"Its a Quarian tradition, young Quarians leave the migrant fleet and only return when they have found something of use to the fleet. It proves we are willing to do what we can to aid the Quarian people." Tali explained, Jane nodded in understanding.
"I thought Geth fried their data after they are destroyed," Jane asked.
"They do, but if you're skilled enough and lucky, you can retrieve some of the data before its gone." Tali answered before she played the audio log. There were some quirky sounding noises before a voice belonging to a Turian was heard.
"Obtaining the beacon on Eden Prime was a great victory, and it has brought us one step closer to finding the Conduit." the voice said.
"That's Saren's voice," the Navy officer said, "this is just what we need to get the council to revoke his spectre status!"
"What I want to know is what is the Conduit." Jane said.
"I don't know, maybe its some sort of super weapon, but this proves Saren was on Eden Prime."
"Wait," Tali interrupted, "there's more." She continued to play the audio file. Another voice, feminine broke in.
"And once step closer to the return of the Reapers." Everyone appeared to be at a loss as to who the voice belonged to.
"I'm not sure who the second voice is, or what the Reapers are." Tali said. Jane was not as confused.
"The Reapers are an ancient machine race that wiped out the Protheans fifty thousand years ago," Jane clarified. "That's what I saw in those visions, it wasn't the Geth, it was the Reapers."
"Then all the more reason to stop Saren," the officer said. "We need to get this to the Council immediately."
"Not so fast, Anderson," Udina interrupted, "I won't have you endangering this Council session."
"You can't just cut Captain Anderson out of the loop," Jane protested.
"He's right, Shepard," the officer, Anderson said, "I have a history with Saren, as long as I'm there, the Council won't listen to a thing we say."
"Come, Shepard," Udina commanded, "Meet me at the Citadel Tower."
"Wait," Tali said, "take me with you." Jane was shocked at the request.
"What about your pilgrimage?" she asked.
"What would it say about me if I selfishly returned to the fleet when there is something like this going on?" Tali reasoned. Jane nodded.
"Okay then, welcome aboard." She answered.
"Are you sure about this, Shepard?" Udina asked, less than pleased. "She is a Quarian, after all."
"And without her we wouldn't have the evidence we need." Jane countered. "If I'm going to take Saren down, I'm going to need all the help I can get." Udina nodded curtly and left the embassy suite. Ranma approached Tali.
"Are you okay from here?" he asked. Tali stared at him for a long while, as though she was weighing something in her mind.
"I'll be fine, thank you," She said at length, "for saving my life."
"Any time." Ranma said, before excusing himself, and returning to his apartment.
Ranma was busy rearranging his schedule, calling clients he had canceled that day to help out Tali. It was tedious work, and not for the first time, Ranma pondered if he should hire a secretary. He was broken out of his thoughts as the door to his practice opened. Looking up he was surprised to see Tali, Garrus and Jane walk through his door.
"Hey, guys," he greeted them, "I take it that since you're here and not out tracking down Saren, the session didn't go well?" Jane leveled a smirk in his direction.
"The opposite," she said, "you're looking at the first Human spectre." Ranma's eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Congratulations, I guess," he offered, extending his hand, which Jane shook. "What brings you here, then? Got a few kinks you need taken care of?" Jane shook her head.
"Always have a few kinks to work out," Jane said, "but that's not why we're here." Ranma furrowed his brow in confusion. He didn't like where this was going all of a sudden.
"So... why are you here?" he asked bluntly. Jane looked him in the eye, her expression serious, having lost the smirk she wore just a moment earlier.
"I want you to come with me," she explained, "Saren is no longer a spectre, and I have a mission to find him and bring him in. I was allowed to bring along anyone I thought might be able to help me with my mission, and like I said earlier, I can use all the help I can get."
"So?" Ranma asked. "Looked like you had a pretty good team, already. I mean, he's just a Turian, right?" Garrus bristled at his words, placing a claw on the pistol at his hip.
"Just a Turian?" He sputtered, "spectre status not withstanding, Saren was one of the best-" Ranma raised a hand to cut him off. He reached over to a small pile of scrolls he kept on hand to give his practice an 'old tradition' feel and, picking one up, tossed one to Garrus.
Garrus caught the scroll and opened it looking at the figure of a Turian with several dots around its body. Writing adorned the picture, a style he had never seen before.
"What's this?" he asked.
"That shows how I can drop you before you draw your pistol," Ranma stated, calm as can be. "Turian has nothing to do with it; he's scum, but he's still just one guy." Jane stepped in before an argument could ensue, even if Ranma was being a jerk.
"He's one guy who happens to have an Asari matriarch working with him," Jane said, taking Ranma by surprise, "and an army of Geth."
"Everyone keeps saying that word," Ranma said, he liked excitement as much as the next guy, but he had responsibilities as a doctor."What the hell is a Geth, anyway?" The others shared a look, shocked at Ranma's ignorance. Jane spoke first.
"You don't know what a Geth is?" she asked, voice carrying a tone of disbelief. Ranma huffed.
"I've only been on the Citadel for two years," he clarified, "before that I was on Earth my whole life." It made sense, Jane figured, it was not like the Geth were an everyday subject, and certainly would not be a topic of any frequency on Earth. He did not understand the magnitude of the threat facing the galaxy.
"The Geth," Tali began, "are a race of machines created by the Quarians three hundred years ago. They began as simple laborers to help us on our planet. Unfortunately, we continued to improve them until one day they gained sentience and became true AIs." Her voice was sad, carrying the sorrow of an entire people. "We tried to take them offline before they realized they were being used as labor and rebelled. We didn't succeed, and after billions of Quarians were lost, we were forced from our home to wander the stars."
"The Geth alone are bad enough," Jane continued after Tali fell silent, "but Saren is trying to bring back the Reapers. Fifty thousand years ago they wiped out all advanced civilization, and they could do the same to us. Saren needs to be stopped."
Ranma sighed, even if the Reapers were long gone, he knew they were right. If the Geth could almost destroy an entire race when they were unprepared, then they could do much worse if they were the aggressors.
"Alright, I get your point," he said after a moment. "How long will we be gone?" Jane gave Ranma an apologetic look.
"That's not clear," she said, "Saren is good, and he has a head start. The Council is gathering information on Saren's recent activities, and we'll start from there." Ranma moved back to his desk and began working at his terminal.
"Give me a bit to let my patients know I'll be out for a while," he said, "when are we leaving?"
"An hour ago," Jane said, emphasizing the urgency of the task at hand. "Head down to C-Sec headquarters and from there take the elevator to the Alliance docking bay." Ranma nodded at her instruction. With that, Jane, Tali and Garrus turned to leave.
"Ranma?" Jane said, getting his attention before she left.
"Yeah?" He acknowledged.
"I have an L2 on my team," she explained, "Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko."
"I'll bring what I can," Ranma offered, "some stuff for Turians, too. I don't have anything for Quarians or Krogan, but I'm sure I can figure it out while we're out." Jane smiled, and with that they left Ranma to set his affairs in order before meeting them at the Alliance docking bay.
Ranma looked down at the pack he carried while he rode the elevator. Two years ago, when he first arrived on the Citadel, it was barely half full with all of his worldly possessions. Now, as he was getting ready to depart on a dangerous mission, it was packed with all he felt he could afford to carry. Most of it was clothing, as well as a few datapads, with almost all of his charts and texts for chiropractic procedures and meditation techniques.
He had left instructions for the L2s he had been helping so that they could continue their sessions alone until he could return. He was looking forward to meeting Jane's L2 teammate and helping him with whatever problems he had.
The long elevator ride ended shortly, and the door opened, giving him an excellent view of the Serpent Nebula stretching out beyond the docking bay. There was one ship docked there, it was sleek with a sweeping body style that Ranma had never seen before. On its side was written SSV Normandy, the ship's name.
Ambassador Udina brushed by Ranma as he exited the elevator, without so much as a 'hello.' Ranma snorted at his rude behavior before ignoring him. The man's arrogant behavior constantly grated on Ranma's nerves, he was happy that he hardly ever had to talk to the man.
As Ranma approached the gangway leading to the ship, he spotted Jane and Captain Ansderson shaking hands before Anderson left for the elevator as well. As he moved past Ranma, he gave a nod, which Ranma returned. Jane smiled as Ranma approached.
"Is everything ready?" she asked him.
"Is it ever?" he shot back, smiling ruefully. She returned his smile, before moving off the pier to the gangway.
"No, I guess not," she agreed, "come on, I'll introduce you to the crew. Wrex, Garrus and Tali are already on board." Ranma followed her to the ship.
"What did Udina and the Captain want?" Ranma asked as a soft light began to sweep over them, a tinny voice announcing decontamination.
"It was good news and bad news," Jane explained, "the good news is that we have some leads to follow up on for tracking Saren." Ranma nodded.
"And the bad news?" he asked.
"Captain Anderson is stepping down as commanding officer of the Normandy," she said, "leaving me in charge." Ranma raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"How is that bad?" he asked. There was a ping, and the door opened, giving them passage to the dimly lit halls of the Normandy. Jane sighed at his question.
"Anderson is a good man, and one of the best commanding officers I had the honor of serving under," she said, "without his support and direction, the mission is going to be very difficult."
He followed her to the left, toward the bridge. He shrugged after some thought.
"It can't be that bad," he said at length, "you got Garrus and Wrex to follow your direction pretty good, they didn't even fight against your commands when you guys fought me, even though you didn't stand a chance." Jane took a moment to look offended at Ranma's words, before shaking her head. She could already see a lot of problems with bringing him along. His blunt attitude was going to ruffle some feathers, she just hoped it wouldn't jeopardize the mission.
"You were an unknown," she defended, "I don't like to brag, but my biotic ability is pretty high for a human. There was no way we were prepared to engage an opponent with your level of ability, especially a human one." He smiled and shrugged, she was cute when she pouted, the petulant child in him could already sense she'd be fun to tease.
They approached to forward most point of the bridge, where a man sat at some of the most complicated controls Ranma was sure he had ever seen. The man wore an alliance uniform, and sported a ball cap as well as a scruffy beard.
"That sucks about Anderson," the man said, "survives countless missions only to be taken down by backroom politics." Jane nodded to the man.
"I don't like it, Joker," she said, "he should be here in command, not me."
"Don't sell yourself short," the man, Joker, countered, "everyone here is ready to follow your command, speaking of which, com is open if you have any words for the crew before we depart." Jane nodded, and was silent for a moment, gathering her thoughts.
"This is Commander Shepard," Jane said, finally, steeling her resolve, "we have our orders. We are to track down Saren before he reaches the conduit. Saren knows we're coming, he will be ready. But remember, Humanity needs to do this. Not jut for ourselves, but for every species in the galaxy. We have stood apart from the galactic community for too long, its time to stand up and show the galaxy what Humanity has to offer." She cut the com when she finished speaking.
"Well said, commander," Joker said, moved by her words, "Captain Anderson would be proud."
"He gave up everything so I would have this chance," Jane said, "we can't fail." Joker nodded, and Jane moved away from the bridge toward the aft of the ship, gesturing to Ranma for him to follow.
"Come on, I'll give you a quick tour," Jane said to Ranma. They passed from a narrow corridor from the bridge toward the aft of the Normandy. As they came upon a large device with an image of the Milky Way they approached a man with balding gray hair.
"Ranma, this is Navigator Pressly," she introduced Ranma to the man, "he is the Executive Officer here on the Normandy." Ranma could only cast a confused look to Jane. She rubbed the bridge of her nose, every other person with her right now had at least some familiarity with the military chain of command. She had forgotten that Ranma was strictly a civilian.
"That means he is the second in command," she explained. Ranma nodded in understanding.
"Commander Shepard, good to see you decided to include another non-Alliance crew member," he said, sarcasm thick, "at least this one's human. Honestly, Commander, this is the most advanced ship in the Alliance fleet. Are you sure about this, Commander? Quarians, Krogan... Turians?" Jane narrowed her eyes at her XO.
"Pressly," she said, "this mission is vital to every species in Citadel space. They all have a vested interest in our success. And while this is indeed the most advance ship in the Alliance, the Turians helped engineer it. Will having aliens on board interfere with your duties?"
"No, ma'am," Pressly said, "I can keep it professional. You won't hear another word from me." With a nod, Jane dismissed Pressly, and continued to the stairs to the lower deck, Ranma in tow.
"The Normandy has three decks, the second deck contains the mess, medical, my quarters and the crew bunks." she explained as they descended the stairs. "We use a hot bunking system, crew members share a bunk, and are scheduled time to sleep between shifts." Ranma nodded, he had had to deal with worse when he was younger.
They moved around the elevator at the bottom of the stairs, and as they rounded the corner, Ranma could see some small tables arranged just behind the elevator. There were several lockers lining the wall and on either side of the mess hall were two doors, and a hallway leading further aft of the Normandy, where Ranma could see several standing bunks.
Standing to the left side of the room, if facing to the aft of the Normandy, was a dark haired man holding a datapad. He was clean shaven, with short hair that was neatly kept. Jane approached the man, who saluted as she drew nearer. She returned the salute.
"At ease, Lieutenant," Jane said, and the man lowered his arm. "Ranma, this is Staff Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko. Kaidan, this is Ranma Saotome, he will be joining the crew for the mission to stop Saren." Kaidan smiled and extended a hand, which Ranma shook.
"Nice to meet you, Ranma," Kaidan said, "I knew we were taking on some alien crew, I didn't know we were accepting civilians, though." His tone was kind, without the sarcasm that Pressly spoke with.
"Ranma displayed an unusual capability for conflict when we were recovering Tali," Jane explained to Kaidan. "He seems to have some biotic ability," Jane smiled at Ranma's annoyed expression, "though he claims to have no biotic training, or implants. He's a chiropractor on the Citadel, and has experience treating L2s." Kaidan's eyebrows rose in surprise at her introduction.
Ranma looked Kaidan over for a moment, noticing signs of stress that he was currently attempting to suppress. Ranma placed a hand on Kaidan's shoulder.
"You're having a migraine, aren't you?" He asked, Kaidan's eyes widened slightly, but he nodded.
"I can usually function through the pain," he explained, "sometimes they are worse, though, like today."
"May I?" Ranma asked, at Kaidan's nod, Ranma reached both hands to either side of his face, and placed the middle finger of each hand at a point about one inch behind Kaidan's eyebrows. He pushed firmly, Kaidan grunting in pain, and began slow, circular motions.
"This will take about a minute," Ranma said. Jane watched as Kaidan's eyebrows eventually relaxed from the furrow he had held them in. Eventually, Ranma nodded, apparently satisfied with his work.
"How do you feel now?" Ranma asked. Kaidan opened his eyes, and gave his head a few experimental shakes, and smiled.
"The pain is still there," he explained, "but its very small. How did you do that? I massage my temples all the time and I can't do what you just did." Ranma smiled.
"Acupressure," Ranma explained, "most people know the more common points on the human body to relieve pain, but they don't know how use the points properly."
"Like I said," Jane spoke, "Ranma is a chiropractor with experience treating L2s. He said that he knows some meditation exercises that will help to reduce the frequency of your migraines." Ranma nodded, before continuing the explanation.
"If you'd like, we can hold sessions to help you," Ranma said, "I'm not sure how long we will be out, but I should be able to teach you enough to continue on your own after the mission. Between sessions, if you feel a migraine, don't hesitate to come see me and I'll help reduce the pain. Its better for you than keeping your system flooded with pain killers."
Kaidan smiled, deep and happily. He took Ranma's hand and shook it once more.
"I can't thank you enough," he said to Ranma, "I can already tell we'll be good friends. I look forward to working with you." Ranma nodded and returned Kaidan's smile.
"Come on, Ranma," Jane said, "I'll finish showing you around the ship and get you settled into medical. Lieutenant."
"Ma'am," Kaidan acknowledged, and turned back to the datapad in his hands. Jane led Ranma back to the elevator, and stepped inside, Ranma following.
"Below is the cargo deck and engineering," Jane explained, "we keep various supplies and personnel lockers down here, as well as the mako, a heavy duty all terrain vehicle." The elevator eventually stopped. Ranma whistled at the size of the cargo bay.
"Pretty spacious," he said, "would it be okay for me to use this space to exercise?" Jane nodded at his question.
"As long as you will be fit for duty when I need you," she said.
"Not a problem," Ranma answered. Jane led him over to a set of lockers, and pointed one out to Ranma.
"This will be your locker," Jane said, "even though you will be medical, I might take you with me on missions. Once I figure out the extent of your abilities and how best to use them, that is." Ranma nodded, already having figured he was along for more than curing headaches.
After he placed his bag in the locker, Ranma followed Jane further along the wall to a workstation where a young woman was cleaning a rifle. The woman saluted Jane as she approached, as Kaidan had earlier.
"At ease, Williams," Jane requested, the woman followed the order quickly. "Ashley, this is Ranma Saotome, he will be joining Dr. Chakwas in medical. Ranma this is Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams." Ashley shook Ranma's hand, and smiled.
"Its good to see another Human on board," Ashley said, "it was getting a little weird down here for my tastes." Jane frowned at Ashley's words.
"That won't be a problem, will it Williams?" Jane asked, Ashley shook her head violently.
"Not at all ma'am," she said quickly, "I'm wherever you need me, no complaints." Jane smiled.
"Good," she said, "Ranma here is a hand-to-hand expert, he'll be using the cargo hold to practice. I'd like you to work with him."
"Hand-to-hand, ma'am?" Ashley scoffed, "I like my rifle, just fine." Jane smiled, she would have felt the same way had she not seen Ranma in action.
"While I'm positive most of our encounters will necessitate the use of small arms," Jane explained, "hand-to-hand training should help hand-eye coordination and reaction times."
"Ma'am?" Ashley asked, unsure of what she meant. Jane laughed lightly.
"I still can't believe it, but Ranma here was able to dodge gunfire," she clarified. Ashley laughed.
"Pull the other one, skipper," she chuckled, "its going to be a long mission, and I need a good laugh."
"Practice with him once," Jane asked, "for me. If you don't think it'll help after, then you don't have to do it again." Ashley shrugged.
"Sure thing skipper, whatever you want."
"Thank you, see you later, Ash."
"Ma'am," Ashley said. Jane nodded to her before moving back to engineering, taking Ranma with her. The sight that greeted Ranma in engineering was something he was not prepared for.
Suspended between three long arms was a ball of brilliant energy. He could feel it, pulsing with power like Happosai when they had fought so many times in the past. Electricity was arcing off the ball, crawling along the arms, which spun madly about it. There were several people in the room, including Tali. They were all absorbed in their tasks, monitoring the engine output of the Normandy.
"This is the eezo core for the Normandy," Jane explained, "state of the art, it is able to enter a stealth type flight mode so we can move about undetected in enemy space." Ranma nodded in appreciation, that would be pretty useful, indeed.
Ranma moved up behind Tali, who seemed oblivious to his presence. He smiled, he hadn't done this since he lived with the Tendos. He raised both hands to his mouth, cupping them to project his voice.
"Boo!" Tali jumped with a shriek, dropping the datapad she had been using. She whirled suddenly, her glowing eyes narrowed in irritation.
"Don't do that, you bosh'tet!" She punched out, slapping Ranma's shoulder, who just laughed at the reaction. Her eyes widened suddenly, upon seeing who had startled her, and deflated as suddenly as she had jumped.
"Ranma!" she gasped out, clutching at her chest to still her wildly beating heart. "You shouldn't sneak up on someone like that, what if I'd been working on the drive core? I could have overloaded it." Ranma smiled widely.
"They already let you do that?" He asked, surprised.
"Well... no, not yet," Tali replied timidly, "but what if it had been someone else? Engineer Adams could have had a heart attack." Ranma smiled and waved his hand lightly.
"Sorry, my bad," he said jovially, "wouldn't have scared the other guys though, wouldn't have been as cute." Tali stilled at his comment, and began to wring her hands together nervously. She started to sputter nonsense while trying to respond to Ranma's words.
"Ranma!" Jane called, he turned to see her half-amused irritated expression. "If you're finished trying to blow up my ship, let's get you up to medical so you can meet Dr. Chakwas." Ranma laughed and nodded.
"Sure thing, see you around Tali," he called to the Quarian girl and waved before following Jane back to the elevator. Once there, Jane cuffed him lightly on the back of the head, as the elevator rose.
"This is a serious mission, Ranma," she admonished, "please refrain from scaring the other crew while they're on duty." He smiled at her words.
"Sure thing, I'll only scare them off duty, then." Jane rolled her eyes at his statement, but let the subject rest, hopefully she wouldn't have to deal with a crew that was constantly on edge. She could already feel a headache forming. She pinched the bridge of her nose.
"I can even cure the headaches I cause," Ranma laughed. Jane scowled at him and punched him in the shoulder. The elevator halted its ascent and the doors opened.
"Just what I need, another Joker," Jane complained as they moved to the medical bay. The doors opened with a soft hiss, and Ranma was led into the room.
The medical bay was quiet, more so than the rest of the ship. There were several cots along the walls, and a few desks. Cabinets lined the walls, presumably containing medical equipment to treat soldiers. Sitting at one of the desks was an older woman, wearing an Alliance doctor's uniform. She stood as the two approached, taking a quick sip from a cup of coffee she held in her hand with a slight grimace.
"Commander," the woman acknowledged, "this must be Ranma. Imagine my surprise when I checked up on Kaidan only to find him not only cured of a migraine he professed to having earlier, but in an oddly chipper mood." Jane smiled and nodded.
"Ranma, I'd like you to meet Dr. Karin Chakwas. She's the chief medical officer here on the Normandy," Jane introduced, "Dr. Chakwas, this is Ranma Saotome. He'll be assisting you in the med bay during his shift. He'll also be assisting Kaidan with his headaches." Chakwas nodded to Ranma.
She tried to set the coffee she was holding on the desk, but missed, dropping it. Ranma swiftly caught the cup before it could hit the ground, twisting it with a flourish to prevent the liquid from splashing out of the container. He bowed with a light flourish, setting the cup back on the desk.
"Don't want everyone getting all wet, huh?" he said aloud with a smile. Karin was awed at his quick reflexes, while Jane just rolled her eyes. In her opinion he really needed to stop showing off, it was not like a little spilled coffee was the end of the world.
"It will be nice to have some assistance," Karin said, "sometimes these old bones make it difficult to move heavier people and equipment around. I'm sure a strapping young lad like you could help an old lady, yes?"
"Whatever you need, doc," Ranma offered, "I think I have some acupressure charts that should help with arthritis."
"Oh, you," Karin laughed, smacking Ranma's shoulder, "allow an old woman her fun. Now, as you're here and available, I'd like to give you some immuno-boosters. The sterile environment on a star ship can play havoc with a person's immune system." Ranma shrugged, and held out an arm.
Karin picked up a syringe she had placed on her desk earlier, obviously prepared to do this from the start. She placed the needle at Ranma's forearm and pushed, only to have the needle shatter as it failed to pierce Ranma's skin. Karin raised an eyebrow and looked at Ranma.
"That was unexpected," she said, astonished at the toughness of Ranma's skin. "Luckily I picked up some more durable needles once I heard a Krogan would be on board." Ranma stopped her before she could move.
"No need, hold on a moment," he said, and closed his eyes. The skin that had broken the needle seemed to shimmer with a soft blue light for a moment. "There, you should be able to do the shot now." Karin looked at him skeptically for a moment before retrieving a second syringe.
This time the needle did not break, piercing the skin easily and depositing its payload. Karin looked Ranma over for a moment then activated her omni-tool after she had placed the empty syringe in a waste receptacle. A broad beam of light shot out from the tool and swept over Ranma for a moment. She looked over various graphs and images that flashed above her omni-tool for a moment. Karin's eyes widened in shock.
"Most interesting," she breathed out, "Commander come look at this." She pressed a few buttons at the terminal on her desk, causing a large display to appear. There were several figures and diagrams, including a human figure with strange, shining pathways leading from the head to the tips of each limb. Jane looked the display over for a moment, before gasping.
"Ranma, did you know about this?" She asked. He shook his head.
"Honestly," Ranma said, "I haven't been to a doctor in almost twelve years." He moved over to the two women and looked over the display with them. He let out a low whistle at what he saw.
"Wow, that's cool," was all he could say. The pathways were listed as neurons, the key map on the display showed that the soft green color they were giving off was an indication of the presence of Element Zero. "What does it mean?" he asked. Karin rubbed the bridge of her nose with a sigh. Hitting a few buttons she pulled up another image, the name Shepard ran across the top.
The new image showed similar neural pathways. However, rather than the neurons glowing a soft green there were small balls of brilliant green here and there along the spinal column and at the base of the skull.
"As you can see here," Karin instructed, "most biotics, like Shepard, have nodules of Element Zero that they can manipulate using the electrochemical impulses from the nervous system." Ranma nodded, following along. Karin switched the image back to Ranma.
"Here you can see that you lack the same nodules," Karin continued, "instead your entire nervous system is sheathed in trace amounts of Element Zero. Normally, such low levels of Element Zero are impossible to manipulate. To do so would require careful manipulation of your nervous system on par with an Asari." Dr. Chakwas pulled up another file, it was Ranma's personnel file from the Citadel. She leveled her gaze at Ranma.
"What I want to know is where you came in contact with Element Zero," she pointed at his date of birth, "seeing as how it wasn't even discovered when you were young enough to receive any benefit at all." Jane looked bewildered.
"That can't be right," she denied, "you can't be more than thirty!" Ranma shrugged his shoulders, he should have seen this coming.
"There was an accident when I was younger," he explained, "I was frozen for a while. I don't really want to talk about it; its not a very good memory." Jane looked at him for a long moment before nodding. "I'm not really sure about the Element Zero, though. The only thing that comes to mind were all of the 'mystic' wells and springs my pop dragged me to all over Japan and China." Karin nodded, as though he had confirmed something.
"I often thought myths and legends were strange," she thought aloud, "perhaps there has been Element Zero on Earth longer than we thought, and there is more truth to the myths than we first assumed. It would be most interesting to investigate, were we not already tied up." Dr. Chakwas pulled up one more image.
"What is even more interesting," she said, "is that your possession of Element Zero is not the most puzzling thing about you." She pointed at the image on screen: it appeared to be a twisting ladder-like structure. There was a ghostly image superimposed over it, a similar ladder-like structure.
"I would have thought this was some sort of glitch," she admitted, "but there is something attached to your DNA. The only reason I think it is not a glitch, is that it is a complete sequence, with only one discrepancy." She hit a few keys and separated the images. Ranma was unsure what she was talking about, this was a little beyond the realm of his chiropractic studies. "This second sequence contains two x chromosomes. Care to explain?" Ranma paled at her words, then shook his head rapidly.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Ranma chuckled nervously, backing away from the desk, putting space between him and the coffee cup that was sitting innocently on the desk, it wasn't steaming, and that left Ranma feeling nervous. Unfortunately for Ranma, as Karin turned to keep her eyes on him as he moved back, her hand hit the cup that was sitting on her desk. As the cup tipped forward, coffee was thrown from the container, and physics took over from there. Ranma watched as the brown liquid spread through the air, praying to whatever god would listen that the coffee was at least warm. Alas, much to Ranma's dismay, when the coffee touched his arm, he found out that it was quite cold by now.
Ranma shrank several inches as the water came in contact with him, his shoulders becoming more slender. His rugged hands became thin and dainty, and his well defined muscles seemed to disappear. His chest began to swell and his hair faded from raven to bright red. In place of Ranma was a petite girl, with a body that left Jane's mouth dry.
"Believe it or not," Ranma said in a higher pitched voice, waving her hands before her in a calming manner, "there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this."
Chapter 2 End
Author's Note Post Script
And SCIENCE! Can explain just about anything if you're willing to bend(break) some(all) of the rules. Ranma's curse will be explored and explained in the next chapter, as well as their departure to track down Saren. I always imagined that if the Protheans and other species were performing evolutionary experiments on primitive races that they might also have experimented with Eezo on them as well. There are many myths containing wells or springs that give the drinker power to do super human feats. That will be the explanation in this fic, anyhow. Ah well, another day another chap. I don't normally ask people to review, but if I'm getting almost two thousand visitors on a single chapter, the ratio of reader to reviewer is pretty skewed if you ask me. So please, take a moment to tell me what you think.