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Monday, 04 May 2020 09:07

Ranma ½ is the property and invention of Rumiko Takahashi. The following story is not produced for any monetary or personal gain. Keep in mind the journey is almost always more interesting than...

Sunday, 03 May 2020 22:13

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Chapter 17: All Of My Memories

The agent Ranma met was a bit of a disappointment. He was a tiny rag of a man, barely above four feet, and gave the impression a stiff wind would blow him over. Ranma's first thoughts upon seeing him enter the campsite was to wonder how he had come through the wilderness unscathed. There had to be more to what he saw, even Voodoo boy from home looked more impressive.

The Serpent, whom Ranma had named Scaly, had given an impressive bit of warning. It was whole minutes later before his own hearing picked out the thrashing sound of the man making his way towards them.

"Well... hello. Are you the psychic I'm supposed to meet?" Ranma began somewhat uncertainly.

"No. I'm the priest you're supposed to meet who happens to be a psychic. Greetings, I am Ohnishi."

"Ranma Saotome."

"Not for much longer. Soon you will take the place of Hashimoto, traitor at large. Elite ninja of the Otomo Shogunate. I assume you can fake the ninja stuff. You'll have the memories and skills for a few days, but if you don't have the strength and stamina to pull off the moves, all the skill in the world won't help you."

Thinking back to when he had first learned the Dragon Ascending, Ranma simply shrugged, "You'd be surprised at what you can do. Doesn't matter though. Unless this guy's some freak of nature, I can fake his strength level."

"Excellent. The meeting place is a small town just a few miles away. Hashimoto-san is on his last night out he's allowed before he's sent through the gate. Once you have his memories it should prove simple to slip back inside. By the way, change into some normal clothes. You stand out like a sore thumb in that blue outfit."

Ranma shrugged and had his robe change into a set of typical peasant clothing. Of course, it was made out of blue and red silk, but he hoped no one would notice in the dark. The priest turned back towards him to continue the conversation.

"A simple set of robes will...gah! What the hell? You look like a Lord slumming!"

"Hey! It's not like I can carry a lot of luggage! You think I have some sort of dimensional closet I can pull a bunch of stuff out of," Ranma said with a smirk.

"Fine. I brought an extra robe for this occasion anyway. Where's your guardian snake?"

"He's just wandered off," into folded space, Ranma thought to himself, "I'm sure he'll find his way back."

"You should be more careful with gifts from the Sacred Tree. They should be respected, and used only in dire emergencies."

"Wow! Will everyone I meet know what Scaly is?"

"I am a priest. It is my job to know such things. Others may, it depends if they are familiar with the Tree."

"Hmph. Let's talk about this brain switch thing. I want your word of honor that this thing is temporary and you won't go looking or changing anything that belongs to me."
"I am shocked that you would even ask," the little man spouted indignantly.

"Whatever. Promise. It's my head and I like it just the way it is. If I find something different about it, I'll be back to discuss it with you. Painfully."

"I will not be threatened. I will perform the duty my high priestess laid upon me. This only includes giving you some memories or skills. If you think you can bully me, you will find me well able to defend against mere physical force!" Personality bleed through only happened in very rare occasions, the priest added to himself. Even if it did it was only temporary.

"Right. We'll see what happens," Ranma stated with skepticism.

The pair walked in silence for the next hour until they arrived at the outskirts of a small town. At the late hour, few people were out on the street though many of the small houses and stores that lined the streets had their lights on, in turn illuminating an otherwise dark path. Several odd vehicles lay in front of buildings, obviously of decent technology but lacking wheels or other visual means of locomotion.

A few minutes saw them in a small, somewhat rundown tavern. The lights were electric and there were stoves and refrigerators briefly visible when the waiter entered or left the room. Other than that, no use of advanced technology was visible.

"I thought the Shogunate was the source of most of the technology before the Republic showed up. What happened?"

"Shh. Keep your voice down. This is merely a border town. Its existence is not very important in the eyes of the government. It pretty much lives off what it can scrounge. The people who live here like it because it gives them a certain freedom, but they do pay with the lack of many amenities." He paused for a moment and then went over to the counter at the bar.

"Excuse me. I previously requested a room reserved for me and my friend here. May I have the key?"

The barkeep was dressed in simple but neat clothes and he held a glass which he polished with an available rag. "Yes sir. Got yer key right here." Giving the room a cautious glance he leaned in close to the smaller man. "You might want to be careful tonight. I saw one of the members of the government's death squads running around tonight. Those goons don't treat priests with much respect, if you get my meaning."

"Thank you for the warning. I will keep to my room tonight. Better to ere on the side of caution, aye?" the priest stated benevolently.

"Ain't that the truth. It's a dangerous world out there these days. Watch yerself." With not more than a nod the barkeep went back to his glasses.

"He's a good man. Won't stick his neck out, but if he can help, he will," the little man said as they climbed the stairs. At the top, he stopped by the third door to right and opened it.

The priest took half a step in before he was forcefully swept off his feet and dragged through the door. "Calm down Hashimoto-san," he gasped out through the chokehold. "I'm here as we agreed."

"How do I know you have not betrayed me already?" the black-uniformed man growled.

By this time Ranma had entered the room and closed the door behind him. He looked bemusedly at the scene before him. A rather large man just over six feet wrestling with a very short man.

"You don't, but if you don't let the priest go you can worry about it when you regain consciousness." Turning his attention the gasping man he continued, "This guy is a little bit larger than I am by a few inches. Do you honestly think I'm going to able pass as him?"

"You dare ignore me? Nothings take place until I allow it..." he was stopped when Ranma got tired of the man's ranting and levered his arm from his chokehold position, continuing the maneuver to place the arm behind his back in a very painful hold.

"As I understand it, you've already agreed. You can do this conscious or unconscious. I somehow doubt the priest will wait for you if you aren't capable of following on your own. Personally, I think it would be much quieter in here if you weren't awake," Ranma said in his best threatening manner. Who said it didn't pay to watch bad Kung Fu movies?

The black-clad man was grunting in pain and obviously trying his hardest to break the hold. Ranma halfway paid attention, enough to counter the moves, while he visually checked on the health of the cleric.

"You alright?"

"S...sure. Just need to get my breath back. Don't worry about his size. I have a bit of padding, you don't need much, and some built-up shoes. Once on the other side, you won't need those things. No one will know you anyway." Taking a closer look at the constrained man he spoke directly to him, "Well Hashimoto-san, I assume you still don't think we betrayed you. It would be simplicity itself to do as we wish to you at this point." Turning his attention once more towards Ranma, "I think you can let him go. He needs my services if he wishes a place in the New Empire."

"Fine. One wrong move and he sleeps off his attitude," the martial artist warned.

Groaning, the ninja staggered over to the chair rubbing his arms. The priest gestured towards the bed.

"You should lie down. I am confident of the success of this procedure but it will most likely be uncomfortable."

Ranma glanced worriedly at the ninja sitting in the chair. He had no doubts he could easily handle him now, if he was incapacitated by the procedure, who knows what would happen.

"Don't worry about him, once I have transferred his knowledge I will keep him under control until I get back to civilization," the priest's telepathic voice startled Ranma seeming to reverberate within his head. He simply nodded to himself. He knew there had to be more to the little man than first appeared.

Moving over to the bed, he lay down. He saw the priest put one hand on the ninja's forehead as the other came to rest on his own head. Then he was too distracted by the flood of another man's life to pay any attention to the world around him.

 

 

Rhada muttered unhappily to herself as she looked over the market wares. Beside her stood Abdul-Ra his hand lay on her arm as he gave her a comforting pat.

"Come dear, we have barely looked at half the marketplace. I sure we can find something you like..." the Raksasha Lord murmured comfortingly.

"It's no use. These wares have no fire... no spirit. They aren't any better than lapdogs," the beautiful demoness said disparagingly. Before her stood a long line of slaves. They varied in their age, sex, and race but a spirit of hopelessness was one thing they had in common. Before they stood a six-legged insectile entity, wringing its claws and occasionally rubbing its mandibles.

"But my Lady, you won't find a finer selection of slaves in all Atlantis. Look at this young one, perfect for the afternoon snack, or for listening to her screams by a cold winter's fire." The chittering creature continued. "We have younger, or if you prefer, the older ones who know what's happening to them and can appreciate the horrors you inflict..."

"Enough! You can't seem to appreciate the concept of a pet. Besides we're Demon Lords, torture for pleasure is for lesser entities. We have enough of that kind of thing during work. You have thoroughly broken the spirit of these pathetic mortals. The only way you could get them to say anything remotely interesting would be to beat it out of them." He said, dismissing the salesmen as one lacking the proper appreciation of the finer things in life.

"I apologize my Lord," the creature screeched, obviously not understanding why it should be sorry, but eager to grovel before a powerful Demon Lord. "The only unbroken slaves in Atlantis are probably the new slaves, gladiator slaves, they usually rebel until something eats them in the Arena, and the slaves being punished. Unfortunately, the punishments are usually terminal."

"Well, I suppose it's the price of your kind of business. Maybe Splynncryth would have something. He has the largest supply of slaves on the continent." Abdul-Ra muttered to himself.

"Yes, Lord Splynncryth is a great boon to our business. Without him this whole marketplace would be nothing..." the creatures sycophantic chants to the great Splugorth lord faded into the background of the marketplace as the two slowly walked away.

"Well, we haven't found a pet for you yet, but we have found some very nice clothes for you, and even a very attractive rune dagger that brings out the color of your eyes so very well."

"Oh, darling, I admit it has been fun. Did you know the dress I bought yesterday was made from the skins of the last of a whole race that was exterminated just to create a scarcity in the marketplace? It seems one of the Splugorth found them before they discovered space travel and scattered all over the place. It's really a pity... they had such beautiful hides."

"It's really unfortunate you have your heart set on a biped. I have a minion who specializes in enslaving feline species who works in this market."

"No. I really want to find a mortal just like that adorable human that rescued me. Besides, no offense dear, but I always have to stifle the urge to gut your minions after I deal with them. The only loyalty and honor they possess resides in you."

Abdul-Ra gave a gruff chuckle, "I understand. I feel the same about your minions. I think it has to do with being Demon or Deevil Lords. They have no choice but to be loyal to me. I think that is one of the things that first sparked my interest in you. Unlike our fellow Lords, you and I share a concept of honor. I had never encountered it before in a peer. It's very attractive," the Demon Lord purred as he brought his mate's hand to his face.

 

 

Ranma woke up feeling an overwhelming need for a bath. The filth wasn't on his hands it was on his soul. The memories that filled him were those of a coward, a bully, and generally an all-around pathetic human being.

"Ugh. This is disgusting!" Looking around to find the priest sitting beside the bed, "It goes away, right? I feel all these memories of that pathetic man are mine. I would squash this man like a bug, except it is beneath my dignity," Ranma proclaimed, and then went cross-eyed as it registered what he had said.

"What happened! I sound like Kuno!" Ranma unhappily complained.

"Don't worry. It's just this fellow's vocabulary. All his memories will fade away in about two days. Make the most of them, and be reassured that they're not yours."

"I'd hope not. The man's mind is a cesspool. What time is it? I... he needs to be back by morning. I'll also need his clothes and the padding." He efficiently went about stripping the unconscious ninja and wrapping the padding around himself.

"I thank you for your services, priest. I leave now, but let it be known that if these memories linger longer than the two days promised you shall feel my vengeance fall upon you," Ranma stated, feeling slightly queasy as alien words poured from his mouth. Without another word, he leaped out of the window into the night.

The priest remained behind, gazing thoughtfully at the back of the retreating martial artist. In his mind he was going over the memories of the two men whom he had probed. Only rigorous training allowed him to keep them separate from himself. The plan had been Ueda-san's. Ranma and Ranko had seemed too suspicious to ignore and she felt they were hiding many things from the New Empire. The priest chuckled to himself. Ranma certainly did have secrets, but they seemed benevolent in regard to the Empire. At that moment Hashimoto woke.

"No! No, you can't escape my power! Wait, get away! Cats, demons, Amazons, dragons... argh! They're all after me! Get'em off! Get'em off! Ack, another fiancée? No, not the hammer!" screamed the delirious ninja.

"Seems our little ninja was too afraid to face the trials of another," the priest passed his hand over the face of the thrashing, boxer clad ninja, causing him to lapse into a more peaceful slumber. "I think we'll wait here two more days until you forget Ranma's life. There are too many secrets that need to be kept. I'll stay awake and write up what I can of Ranma's adventures in two days for Ueda-san. I had better hurry, there's much to write."

He had just placed the unconscious man on the bed and sat at the desk when he felt an overwhelming sensation of raw power behind him. Turning, he saw a lion-headed man who appeared far too large to fit into the room, yet somehow did.

"You have access to many secrets, some of them mine, some belong to other beings of power. Normally I would slay you out of hand for taking what is mine. However, you have aided my champion. For this reason only will I spare your life. You will sleep two days and neither you nor your companion will keep any memories except your own. Be grateful for my mercy."

As the shining entity finished its statement the priest found it impossible to keep his eyes open and gradually slumped over until his head lay on the desk. Almost immediately the light filling the room began to fade.

Soon the only sound in the room was light snores and a quiet whisper that quickly faded, "Damn Mind Mages. Always poking their fingers into other people's business."

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