Part 1: Be All That You Can Be
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and affiliates are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Rifts and Phase World are owned by Palladium. Other references belong to their respective owners.
1-A: Where do we go from here?
Zora was her name, a woman of few words and quick action. Despite her seemingly delicate appearance, with silky white blonde hair, an angel's face and a petite figure that a supermodel would kill for, nobody in their right mind would treat her with anything less then the utmost respect befitting a lady. Partially this was due to the fact that she was a CosmoKnight, one of the chosen heroes of the Cosmic Forge and imbued with enough power to go toe to toe with an Imperial Dreadnought and kick it six ways from Sunday. The other reason was her weapon of choice, the Cosmic Shotgun.
Several times in the past people had laughed at the seemingly ridiculous name of her weapon. At least until they got a good look at the business end of it. Staring into the silver barrels of a muzzle that is almost as big as your entire head at point blank range can do wonders for your manners. 1
"Change here." She pointed to a spot and kicked in a stray rock.
Not many things could shock the Guardian aside from lemons, female nudity, or sex, but this was one of those golden moments.
"You want to do WHAT?!"
"Don't overreact." She looked remarkably composed for someone who just dropped the verbal equivalent of an N2 mine.
"Do you have any idea of what the consequences of opening a Rift are?!"
Silence was her response.
"What could you possibly want him for…."
Comprehension dawned slowly on his face.
"… You're not serious… you've got to be kidding… nuh uh… no way… not happening… forget it, lady… absolutely NOT!!!"
Zora just smiled. 2
Within the heart of the valley of Jusenkyo a system of chaotic magical energy lay dormant. Invisible to the naked eye, dozens of minor ley lines connected the various cursed pools. Several of the more well known pools were sites where anywhere from two to half a dozen ley lines intersected. But one pool at the very center of Jusenkyo was very different from its brethren. This pool was a Super Nexus point, three major ley lines met as one there, seven minor nexus points intersected at it and seven times seven minor ley lines all joined to form the most magically rich 3x3 square feet of water outside of the Bermuda Triangle.
For centuries the magic had slumbered; though even at its lowest point the residual emanations from the ley lines was more then enough to keep the cursed pools active. A side effect of all this background magic was an environment that attracted two ancient beings of power to the area, an ancient Dragon and a Phoenix.
For the most part the area remained stable throughout the turbulent and often violent times that history is known for. Hundreds of animals and beings with latent psionic or magical talent were drawn to the valley by the siren call of the various springs only to drown or receive the curse Fate had decided for them. The Dragon sired offspring and eventually passed away into the antiquity of legend. The Phoenix lived and died, only to be reborn generation after generation. Each time it revived it lost a piece of itself, weakening as the energy provided by the ley lines deteriorated. As the decades passed eventually only the valley itself retained any sizable amount of power at all.
For over a thousand years Jusenkyo was silent.
Then one day…
…It woke up.
"Here, sirs. We come to famous legendary Training Ground of Cursed Springs, Jusenkyo."
It started as the smallest ripple along the ley lines.
"Are you ready, Ranma?" Genma was an idiot. Nothing new there… 3
Harmonics on a level beyond human comprehension started to tremble in discord as a change entered the scene. Those both blessed and cursed by Destiny and Chaos also tended to affect the area around them; Jusenkyo was no exception.
"I don't know… something feels weird here." Ranma couldn't put his finger on it but whatever he sensed was setting his hair on end, it was almost as bad as having a cccca… cca… ca… cacacacaca… cat around.
For once he showed some uncommon sense by not immediately joining his father on top of one of the many bamboo poles sticking out of the springs.
"Hurry up and follow me, boy!"
The subtle feeling of an increasing wrongness to surrounding area completely passed over Genma's less then stellar powers of observation. The occasional sparkle of unnatural blue light that started appearing at the very edges of his vision was easily ignored, he'd had many years of practice at denying the truth to himself and others.
Ranma finally jumped to one of the poles as his father started making cracks about his "obvious lack of manhood" at being afraid of getting wet from some old springs. His ego took charge over prudence; nobody implied Ranma Saotome was less then a man among men and got away with it, especially not his idiot father. Still, he hesitated for a second before assuming a ready stance. Something was happening here, something big.
At the every bottom of one of the pools a point of azure light appeared.
An eerie silence seemed to descend, as if the spirits of the valley were holding their breaths in anticipation of what was to come.
The two opponents faced each other, one just reaching the beginning of his peak, the other already on the long slope down toward mediocrity. No quarter was asked for and none would be given.
The tension of those crucial moments seemed to stretch into an eternity.
Time seemed to slow down to a crawl as father and son prepared to beat each other to a black and blue pulp.
The guide's warnings went unspoken, the living drama playing out before him holding his attention completely. In his time the guide had seen many martial artists come and go, but this he had to admit was something out of the ordinary.
As if in agreement to a silent signal the two took to the air as one. They met at the arch of their jump, hands and feet blurring into individual strikes and parries that crossed the no man's land between them.
For several seconds they seemed to hang there in midair, defying gravity as they tried to gain an advantage over the other. Disengaging they landed effortlessly on another set of poles, only to take to the air once again.
A missed block ended the stalemate. Genma's arm was a fraction of a second too slow coming up to stop his son's flying kick from connecting. Down he went to splash into the spring below.
That event finally managed to snap the guide out of his passive observation…
"Oh sir, very bad you fall in spring!"
"Huh?" Ranma wondered what was taking Pop so long to come up.
He hadn't hit him that hard had he?
"Pop? We done already?"
A dark shape broke the surface of the pool.
"Wha? Wha? Wha?" Ranma started babbling in shock as he beheld the giant creature that had emerged from the pool.
"Honored sir fall into Spring of Drowned Grizzly Bear! Very tragic story of Grizzly who drown in spring one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine years ago. Now who ever fall into spring take body of Grizzly Bear. Is very cursed spring."
"You never said anything about this!!!"
Ranma picked the wrong moment to stop and talk.
The Bear had not yet realized that something was wrong, seeing an opening in Ranma's defenses it attacked. Unfortunately its new paws packed quite a wallop, this new form was much stronger. Ranma went flying through the air past the spring of drowned girl, soaring over the spring of drowned cat, beyond the spring of the drowned demented tentacle demon fiend from another dimension, straight towards the only uncursed spring which coincidentally lay at the exact center of the valley.
"Okay… someone please explain to me, HOW THE HECK DID A GRIZZLY BEAR GET TO CHINA?!"
"Calm down. Stress leads to heart attack."
"Shut up, Rowan! If I wanted that advice I'd have asked for it!"
Needless to say, the Guardian was having a bad day and it showed.
"Could've been worse, he could've fallen into that last spring."
"He did fall into that spring, Bard. Remember that Imp's bet?" 4
*Shudder* "You had to remind me."
"What'd you do with him anyway, Shadow?"
"Booted him out."
"Before or after you beat the crap out of him?"
Ranma was falling… falling… He could see the crystal clear waters of his landing point. What horrible curse awaited him? Would he ever get a chance to express his thanks to his father for getting him into this mess? And why was the spring glowing blue all of a sudden?
At the moment right before Ranma impacted into the water, all hell broke loose.
Power beyond anything seen in a millennium exploded into existence as the entire ley line network went from practically nonexistent to hyperactive with a vengeance.
The sun vanished behind a storm of black clouds and ominous thunder.
Jusenkyo seemed to explode as the released energies played havoc with reality. To Genma and the guide it was as if the world had gone mad. They were hearing colors and tasting sounds, side effects of the warping of local space-time.
These were mere trifles compared to the main event.
A Rift opened.
It blazed into brief existence within the waters of the pool Ranma was falling towards. Within a distant corner of his mind he admired the impossible beauty of it, a swirling vortex of colors that went beyond anything replicable by human hands. The other 99% of him was panicking.
There was absolutely no doubt in his mind.
He was going to die.
Ranma almost had time for one complete scream before he fell through.
It ended as quickly as it had started. One moment it was as if the Second Coming was taking place, the next instant everything was back to normal.
No trace of the flaring blue lines of magical energy remained. The sun was shining and some birds that had apparently taken a wrong turn burst out into song. It was as if the entire nightmarish experience had been just that, a bad dream. Except for one thing…
Ranma Saotome had vanished from the face of the Earth.
"Ur… ugghhh…" He hurt. He hurt all over.
Explosions in the background drew a protest from his cracked lips. Hadn't he been tortured enough? He knew he wasn't dead, he was in too much pain at the moment to be dead.
Opening one eye finally gave him some badly needed visual data. He was in the remains of what had once probably been a nice city. Right now it was an war zone. The shattered remains of once proud buildings surrounded him, laser burns and plasma scarring was everywhere. In the distance he could see faintly the telltale flashes of red and blue indicating energy weapon fire. Another explosion shook the area as a hovering blip over the firefight burst into a rich orange ball of basic particles.
"Where the hell am I?"
Slowly he pulled himself to his feet. His back complained every inch of the way.
As soon as he looked down he found out why.
There was a corpse under him. From the looks of it he'd killed it when he crashed here. Judging from the size of the crater they were in it had been one heck of a drop. He was lucky to still be breathing, let alone moving.
He peered down at his unlucky landing pad.
It was an ugly bastard, all armor and claws with a face only its mother could love. The only thing that marred its fierceness was the almost comical look of surprise on its face and the way its head was twisted the wrong way, indicating a broken neck.
"Damn… Boy, you're lucky to still be alive. Especially after wasting one of the Kreeghor elite like that."
He turned in surprise, he must be hurt worse then he thought if he couldn't sense someone sneaking up on him!
"Come on, we've gotta get out of here. Their Imperial Guard has been called in. If you get caught like that, they'll execute you on the spot."
The stranger grabbed what appeared to be some kind of fancy weapon from the corpse's belt before indicating a side alley for him to go to.
"It was an accident!"
"Heh. Wish we all could have accidents like that. Let's go."
He didn't have much of a choice. Anything was better then just sitting here.
"By the way, what's your name, kid?"
"Ranma… Ranma Saotome. And don't call me kid!!"
"Well, Ranma, I'm Dennis Skythe. Welcome to the Revolution."
To be continued…
|Layout, design, & site revisions © 2005||
Webmaster: Larry F