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Part 2: Home Is Where The Headaches Are

By Shade

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.

2-A: Warped Reflections and a Kink in the Introspection

A nagging feeling was bothering Rowan. It was telling him that something had happened earlier, that had the potential for a lot of trouble.

He pulled out a VCR remote and hit the rewind button. (1)

His hunch was confirmed.

"This… is Bad."

Shadow and the Guardian exchanged looks; this was coming from someone who thought having every molecule in your body explode at the speed of light would be an interesting experience.

Time to start worrying.

Rowan hit the rewind button again.

A frown appeared as he watched the event play out again on the crystal clear water.

-Rifts Earth, Egypt

-One year after Ranma's transformation

Ranma silently berated himself. He could now swear fluently in over twenty-six different languages, and right now he felt that he deserved each and every last one of them.

He should never have let Katrina go scout ahead without him. Once he'd heard blaster fire he'd come running but was too late, her abductors had already carried her off. Probably the same people who had infected her with that weird bio-weapon his med-scanner had picked up in her bloodstream.

Ranma had run into the amnesiac Ley Line Walker earlier during the Gathering of Heroes, the two of them had been assigned to the same task force shortly thereafter. Their group was going after the demonic entity Pestilence, hoping to stop it before it could join War, Famine, and Death. If they failed, all life on this planet would die when the demons re-merged with each other into the Armageddon Beast.

So far they had been trailing the monster, following its path of desolation and death. Every plant within five miles had been devoured down to the roots by voracious insects. Disease and starvation killed those unfortunate souls who were not immediately consumed by the ravenous billions of locusts, flies, ants, and termites that served the Demon.

None of those who had seen the atrocities committed had reacted more strongly than Ranma and Katrina Sun. Both swore to avenge the fallen people, human and D-Bee alike. (2) From their shared sense of justice, the beginnings of a deep mutual respect were formed. In Katrina, Ranma had found the big sister he'd never had. Her distress over her lack of memory also brought out his protective side.

Katrina, on the other hand, initially considered Ranma a brash and foolhardy boy. Her assessment quickly changed after seeing him in combat for the first time.

After seeing Ranma take out a entire squad of Phoenix Empire power armors by himself, she found herself forced to consider that she might be wrong.

A warm shoulder to cry on during the nights that her gap-ridden memory tormented her completed her change in attitude toward him. Despite his tendency to somehow always know the wrong thing to say, Katrina found herself warming up to the kind and sincere heart behind Ranma's rough edges. Her attempts to teach him some manners had won laughs from both of them as well as their comrades. No matter how hard Ranma tried he could never last more then an hour at most before sticking his foot in his mouth.

He'd lost many friends before.

{Not this time! I'm not losing another one. Either I bring her back to the camp safe and sound…}

Ranma's eyes narrowed in determination.

{… or I'll die trying!!}

Sneaking into the pyramid had been the hard part. Tracking the kidnappers had been relatively easy. It helped when you could move faster then any vehicle on the planet.

The outer perimeter was bristling with alarms and sentries, both magical and technological in nature. He'd been forced to crawl through the sand to avoid the nearly invisible beams he knew were scanning for any sign of moment. An unlucky fox had shown that the beams also served a more sinister purpose.

The desiccated husk of what had once been living flesh rattled eerily as the harsh desert wind swept through it. It sounded like the wail of a soul being devoured alive.

Ranma was once again grateful that he was no longer just a normal human, otherwise he'd never have been able to pull it off.

Once he'd gone down far enough, Ranma had just kept going straight until he hit the foundation of the pyramid. A carefully aimed Cosmic Blast later and he was inside.

The place reeked of evil.

Ranma gagged silently, it was as if the very stones were oozing corruption. When this was over he was going to take a long bath and do his best to scrub away this place's vileness from his skin. Ranma hoped he could find Kat soon, he didn't want to stay in this foul darkness a moment longer then he had to.

Quickly he inspected the tomblike interior. It seemed deserted, and was oddly quiet.

Too quiet…

{Where are the defenses?}

A hiss of escaping air reached his ears.

Ranma instinctively leapt up, trusting his finely honed danger sense.

{Damn, I should know better then to ask something like that!}

From his clutch-hold on the ceiling, Ranma looked down.

{Armor piercing darts. Ouch. Probably poisoned too. Not something I want to experience first hand.}

Cautiously Ranma descended back to the floor, being sure to avoid the area the darts had sprung from. No telling where the trigger was, best to just leave it alone and hope nobody would notice until later.

No other traps greeted him, but Ranma still kept a careful eye out for any more unpleasant surprises as he snuck down the corridor.

Something was wrong here.

He was being played for a sucker.

Ranma hated that. He really, really disliked being led around by the nose.

It was simply too easy. He should have run into someone else by now! This pyramid wasn't *that* big.

Even with a fully charged HI-80 laser rifle in hand, Saotome felt uneasy.

It was as if an unseen malevolent presence was watching his every move and laughing at him.

A moment later he entered the main room in the heart of the pyramid.

The darkness was suddenly obliterated by a flash of light that lit the entire room. Ranma froze, his eyes adjusting to the sudden brightness.

The sound of a pair of hands clapping broke the dramatic silence.

"Well done, your antics to enter my base were very amusing."

Across the room from Ranma stood two dozen humanoids in worn NGR body armor surrounding a pale, bleeding Katrina. She had not gone down without a fight. The various cuts and laser burns looked extremely painful. Despite her injuries a pained smile crossed her face at the sight of Ranma.

"You idiot. Now we're both in trouble."

Ranma shrugged.

"I'm always in trouble. One more time won't hurt."

Although the guards were now leveling a variety of assorted black market weapons at him, Ranma was more concerned about the Thing that seemed to be in charge of them.

He radiated an aura of black power, many times stronger then anything Ranma had ever faced before. The being was similar to a man, except it was about four feet taller and had a jackal's head. His presence practically screamed Evil Incarnate. Ranma hated him on sight.

{Might as well try the direct approach}

"Release her, now." Ranma leveled his rifle at the Boss Villain.

A number of red targeting lasers instantly appeared on Ranma's forehead.

Ranma wasn't worried much; they were using lasers, particle beams and a few ion rifles. No sweat, even the plasma mini-missile launcher wasn't anything to get worked up over. Unfortunately Katrina wasn't as durable as he was. As long as she was hostage he didn't dare risk a firefight; there was too much of a chance of a stray shot hitting her. Right now she looked like the next hit she took would be her last.

"You have the nerve to challenge the almighty Set on his own ground? I must admit that you have courage, warrior, though you lack wits. Only fools and the mad would dare to point a weapon at me when the merest word to my servants would see you blown to pieces."

"Not before I put a nice pot hole in that over-inflated poodle head of yours, jerk."

Set inhaled sharply, nearly giving the order to fire in the sudden rush of anger that filled him at this human's words. The evil God calmed quickly though. There was a power within this boy, a power that would soon be his to control, with the proper… inducement. A lasting vengeance for the insults could wait for now.

He gestured to his guards, and at his command the troops all aimed their weapons at Katrina.


He was good but he wasn't that good. He'd get eight, maybe ten of them, if he were lucky. That still left over a dozen guns aimed at Kat, and all it would take was one shot. A Cosmic Blast would clear them all out but he couldn't use one without hitting Katrina.

Bluff raised and called.

Reluctantly Ranma lowered the muzzle of his weapon.

Set smiled, he so enjoyed tormenting these so-called heroes. They were so pathetic with their concern for others, a fatal weakness that he could so easily exploit. The Light's compassion would always be its undoing to the forces of Darkness.

"Violence will avail you nothing here, although a mutual agreement might… persuade me to spare your friend's life."

"What do you want?"

He was still a little innocent, but even Ranma wasn't that naive. He knew that Set was lying through his teeth and would double-cross him as soon as the God got what he wanted. But Ranma didn't have any other alternatives.

The Villain pointed to an area by Ranma's right side where a previously unnoticed stone table sat. Upon its scarred features rested an innocent looking vial of sparkly golden liquid.

"I promise you that it's not poisonous. All you have to do is drink it and she's all yours."

Set smiled. What he didn't mention was that the potion was supposed to change the imbiber into the exact opposite of what they were as well as making the person an utterly loyal slave to him. How thoughtful of Thoth, to create such a valuable prize for him to steal…

Ranma's gaze hardened. He smelled a rat here.

"How do I know you'll keep your word?"

"I am a God; there is no greater guarantee than my word."

{Yeah right!}

Ranma picked up the bottle and swirled it around a little. He couldn't identify any of the liquid's ingredients. It was almost syrupy in texture, but oddly enough there was no sediment at the bottom of the vial. Not a good sign; this was no natural fluid.

He popped the cover and sniffed it.

There was minty-lime scent wafting up from it. No clue here as to what it was, but at least he knew that it wasn't any poison or potion he'd encountered before either.

Ranma noticed that Set was watching him closely now.

{Why's he so interested in getting me to drink this?}

"Well? Are you going to drink, or must my minions spill more of this fair maiden's blood?"

The lackeys raised their weapons a little higher.

"Alright already! I'll do it."

{Oh well. Bottoms up!}

Ranma closed his eyes tightly and gulped the potion down. He braced himself for whatever effects the potion would have.

{… Kinda tastes like fresh butter. It's not bad though…}

Strange, he didn't really feel any different; just a weird tingling sensation all over his body, like a minor itch. Ranma was still trying to figure out what the liquid was supposed to do to him when Katrina was pushed into him all of a sudden.

"Now kill her, slave!! Tear her apart!!!"

The Jackal God was exultant, his most hated foe would be slain by her own friend's hands and she didn't even recognize him. The sadistic irony was so delicious; he would enjoy listening to the Goddess's screams.

Ranma blinked. Then he smirked at the baffled Set and made the magical one finger gesture that drives anyone who sees it into a mad frenzy. To top it off he used one of the most insulting curses he'd learned from the locals:

"Forget it, you <son of a bitch whose ancestors ate dung and drank the leavings of water horses>."

Shock was written all over Set's face. Then sheer rage took over.

"IMPOSSIBLE! You dare to mock ME?! KILL THEM BOTH!!"

Energy beams crisscrossed the room as the guards and Ranma simultaneously opened fire. Ranma shielded Katrina with his body. The light suit of body armor he was wearing was almost completely destroyed within the first thirty seconds of the battle. At the same time his HI-80 Laser Rifle roared, a dragon's blast of red fire.

The first shot cut through the stonework over Set's head, burying him in the rubble. One then two, then three of the guards fell back with steaming holes in their chests. A fourth screamed as the beam passed through its arms, severing them cleanly at the elbow. The sixth shot decapitated his target; the headless body continued to fire until it finally fell to the ground. The rest of the group finally realized their predicament and scrambled for cover, their wild shots striking the walls and the ceiling more often then hitting Ranma.

Taking the opportunity presented he fired a few more shots in their general direction, more intended to keep them from firing back then to actually hit anyone. There had been enough death here for one day.

Clad only in the tattered remains of his clothes now (the rest of his garments were just molten scrap of plastic and metal), Ranma picked up Katrina and dropped his gun to the floor. He pointed his free hand at the wall next to them.

"Better shield your eyes, Kat; the real fireworks are about to go off."

"What are you, Ranma!?"

"If we survive this, I promise to explain everything."

As soon as he saw her shut her eyes, Ranma fired a Cosmic Blast at the stone wall. The sheer brilliance of it temporarily blinded the guards that had the misfortune of looking in that direction. A moment later a fresh, gaping hole leading to the outside of the pyramid had been made.

Ranma grabbed his rifle from the floor along the way out as he carried Katrina and took off into the open blue sky.

"I believe you owe me an explanation, Saotome."

"Uh… it's a long story."

"I have time."

"Well, you see, it all started at this place called Jusenkyo… "

At the temple the Dark God finally freed himself from his stony imprisonment.

His canine eyes burned red with rage.

Set would have revenge for this outrage!


"Aiyah. What a mess."

"What was that potion anyway?"

Rowan fast-forwarded to the scene where Ranma had a talk with Thoth.

Apparently the potion had been one of his creations, and had been stolen by the Jackal God. However it wasn't quite what Set had thought it was.

"Potion of Universal Compatibility?"

Everyone's eyes widened.

"Uh oh… "

"You mean…?"

"Let's put it this way, it gives a whole new meaning to interracial romance."

"In other words, if it's female and fits… Oh, boy."


To be continued.

Author's notes:

  1. What did you expect? Since they don't have the power of a deity they have to rely on cheesy devices instead.
  2. D-Bee: Rifts slang for Dimensional Being. Basically, a humanoid of any race that is from a different dimension.
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