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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-F: Moonlit Interlude

-Tendo Guest Room

{Unfamiliar ceiling.}

Ranma lay on his futon looking up at nothing in particular. Only the light background noises of the Japanese suburbs at night and the chirping of some tenacious crickets broke the quiet stillness of the late hour.

Sleep eluded him. Not that he really needed it, but there was no sense in exerting himself without the need to.

[Still awake?]

{Yeah, guess I'm still too used to feeling the rhythm of Untamed Stallion's engines. At least in China I could gaze up at the stars. It's just too quiet here.}

[It has been quite a day.]

{You can say that again.}

[Something is still bothering me though.]

{What is it?}

[It's… a feeling. Are you sure there's no magic around here? You didn't try an active scan and with enough shields even a half-rate mage can block a passive search. I could do a quick check now if you want.]

{It would give our presence to any sensitive that might be in the city, though. While I highly doubt there's anyone with even a moderate amount of magical talent on this world, I'd be willing to wager that there are at least some fairly competent psychics around. I'd rather wait until any evidence turns up before dropping the element of surprise. Besides, you worry too much.}

[And you don't worry enough!]

Ishtar's concern was mixed with exasperation, if she could have she would have pulled out a blunt instrument and beat some sense into that thick head of Ranma's. As the weapon was locked inside of Ranma's suitcase at the moment she had to settle with simply berating him instead.

[You dolt!]

{Well, I was kinda curious about everyone's behavior during dinner….}

-We are watching you

"What are you doing?"

"Uh… nothing!" The Bard quickly ditched his dirty bootlegged copy of the future plot devices in this Private Bet.

Shadow shot a probing glance at him, still suspicious of the fast-talking rogue musician.

"By the way Bard, I've been meaning to ask you something."


"What the heck's your real name anyway?!! I'm getting sick and tired of having to always call you the Bard!!!"

"Uh… it's kinda embarrassing actually…"

"Spill it."


"What? Speak up!"

"It's BarthalamuDraconiousfranchesicabobescacalifradalisticexpialidocious the Third."

"Good grief!!!"

"So now you see why I prefer being just called the Bard."

-Insert a Flashback sequence intro here

Dinner had been uneventful. Mostly.

"This sukiyaki is delicious, Kasumi! The beef is so tender and sweet! You can really sink your teeth into the meat, it's just so good!"

For some reason Ranma couldn't understand all three of the Tendo girls had turned beet red after hearing that. This was the best food he'd had since leaving the ship!

Things got even weirder after he asked Akane for some sweet buns. She'd nearly choked on her drink, but when he had asked what was wrong she said that she was fine.

Genma had decided to steal his son's food under the guise of training. The fact that the boy had actually taken normal sized servings didn't go unnoticed, the older man lamented about this obvious slacking off from the Founding Principles of the Anything Goes School. He would have to start teaching the boy all over again.

When Ranma's attention was focused elsewhere Genma's chopsticks struck out for a pickle.


With a self satisfied smirk, the glutton prepared to claim the prize.

Then he looked down.

Never taking his eyes off of Kasumi, who was questioning him about China, Ranma allowed himself a small smile.

Genma stared dumbly at the cleanly sheared ends of his once much longer pair of chopsticks. Then he looked at Ranma, the boy appeared to not have even noticed.

Genma couldn't understand it, so after getting another pair he tried again. This time Ranma's head was turned as he passed some fishcake to Nabiki.

Again the master food thief made his attack.


Once again he pulled back two little wooden stubs.

{How'd he do that?!!}

A cowed Genma decided that discretion was the better part of valor and for once in his life actually ate with what passed for manners. Something was definitely wrong with the boy.

Nabiki Tendo had finally regained her composure and self control after a very cold shower. Her natural tendency to question things was returning to her, as the multiple overwhelming shocks to her system she'd received ever since Ranma had arrived started to wear off.

Several nagging doubts had popped up ever since she'd had a chance to think rationally about this engagement, and more importantly about their potential fiancé.

With great effort the infamous "Ice Queen" of Furinkan pushed away the effects of the free show she'd gotten. She couldn't let silly hormones influence her judgment at a time like this.

Nabiki's eyes narrowed slightly as she studied the friendly but rather quiet young man.

He was too good to be true. There had to be a catch here somewhere. Unless this guy was an absolute saint, he was hiding something. A disturbing possibility occurred to her.

{Say… we never did find out if he was cursed like his father! What if he turns into a little black pig! Or a white duck! Or a yeti riding a bull, holding a crane and an eel! Or worst of all, a buxom young GIRL!!}

The middle Tendo daughter wanted to bang her head against the table for missing such an obvious thing like that. Was she really that hard up for a date?!

This mistake would have to be remedied.

{No time like the present to find out.}

"Say Ranma…."



Nabiki *accidentally* knocked over her glass of water.

Ranma was in the water's path as it started to fall, but somehow he wasn't there when it hit.



"Sorry Akane."

{Damn. Missed!}

She'd have to wait for another opportunity. Not now, but when his guard was down. How hard could it be?

Akane excused herself to dry off. In the bathroom she started banging her head against the wall while chanting, "I hate boys, I hate boys, I hate boys…"

It had been a mistake to peep on Ranma. She felt like a complete pervert. If he ever found out about that she'd just die from complete embarrassment

"Um… Ranma?"

"Yes, Kasumi?"

"Do you… I mean… do…" She faltered, unable to complete her question.


"Are you… cursed in any way, like your father?"

There, she'd said it. Contrary to some people's belief, Kasumi was not stupid, nor was she on a high prescription of Valium. It would have surprised her family to find out that their dear sweet innocent housekeeper possessed a mental acuity that rivaled Nabiki's. She simply utilized it differently. Kasumi had become something of a minor legend in the marketplace for her ability to get the lowest prices no matter where she shopped. Her aura of niceness, combined with a intelligence that few expected from such a seemingly normal girl, never failed to get a discount.

{Oh boy…}

Now, how to answer that without actually lying…

"Um… well, I don't a have a Jusenkyo curse, if that's what you mean…"

Nabiki and Kasumi both caught the implied "but" at the end of that statement.

{What is he hiding!?}

-End Flashback

In the guest room, a large shape turned slightly to observe a second smaller one that lay only a few feet away.

A careful glance revealed Ranma was not moving, his chest rising and falling with the evenness of someone fast asleep. (1)

With a sneakiness that came from long practice, a giant lump inched its way out.

Genma scratched the kerchief on his head as he read some of the stickers plastered all over the innocuous gray case.

`Hug a Pikachu!'

`Wendy Rider Concert Live!'

`Be nice to Wookies! Or they'll rip your arms out!.

There were also several luggage stamps. Yavin IV, Lazlo, Melva, Pern, New Hope and several other places were listed. A large sweat drop had developed behind Genma's head by this time; this was beyond odd and heading straight into downright bizarre.

But he could smell an opportunity for profit a mile away.

During their training journey Ranma had only one small traveling pack of supplies and personal belongings. So naturally Genma was *ahem* curious as to what was in these two rather large pieces of luggage. The boy wouldn't mind; surely a small trinket or two was for him. He'd just take it early and save his son the trouble…

{Quiet Night.}

[Quiet Night.]


[What's that?!]

{Sounds like Pops discovered the anti-theft maser in my suitcase.}

[A microwave taser? Where did you find it?]

{Traded a Flame-blade for it at that little shop on Perv; works great, too. As effective as an electrical stun gun without the risk of fatality.}

[Ewww… it smells like roast pork over here!!!]


{Sorry about that. It does tend to leave the victim a little crispy.}

-Up the stairs and down the hall we go

Kasumi slept alone. With any luck, that would soon change.

{He seems like such a nice young man. I wish…}

A smile lit her peaceful slumber.

Nabiki Tendo was suffering the agony of indecision.

{Do I or don't I? Argghh!!! I can't decide!!!}

Was the risk really worth it? Should she just try to use him, or did she dare to go for the big jackpot?

The whimpering coming from downstairs wasn't helping either.

Akane couldn't sleep a wink. Every time she closed her eyes… IT appeared. The scene from the bath continued to haunt her, every inch of Ranma's body seeming to have etched its way into her memory…

{I am not a pervert!!!}

Now if only she could believe her own declaration.

-Not quite far enough

Sailor Mars paused for a moment. Just a minute ago she'd felt a presence brush past her. It looked like their quarry was on to them…

Yohko looked out at the bright moon from the hotel balcony. She was going with Mrs. Saotome to meet her future fiancé.

{I hope he's cute.}

Admittedly, she'd been reserved at first about this whole business. But Aunty Nodoka could be very persuasive when she wanted to, and anyway Devil Hunting was a lousy way to meet guys. They either got killed or tried to kill her. Plus, most people thought she was just plain weird, but Mrs. Saotome had actually been delighted with her combat skill. If this Ranma guy was even a tenth as good as his mother said he was, she'd take him!

Belldandy finished her wards; the entire shrine was now shielded enough to withstand anything short of Ragnarok.

No matter what happened, Keiichi would be safe.

Ranma was almost about to fall asleep when an urgent buzzing in his mind awakened him.


{Wha? Huh??}

[Remember what you said about there being no traces of magic around?]


[Well get a load of this!]

The sentient weapon opened the link between them fully, to let Ranma "see" what she'd just picked up.

It was one heck of a nasty surprise.

{Impossible! Those sources weren't there earlier!!}

[So what do we do?]

{We wait till tomorrow, then start looking. Ishtar…}


{I've got a bad feeling about this.}

[Join the club.]


To be continued.

Part 3-A
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