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Tuesday, 18 January 2022 10:48

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Monday, 13 December 2021 11:50

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Tuesday, 23 November 2021 20:22

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Monday, 08 November 2021 13:25

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Sunday, 24 October 2021 11:28

The party woke up find the chickens gone.  The house owners had made breakfast and left for the day.  So in between the time we woke up and the people in the house cooked breakfast they...

Monday, 18 October 2021 14:17

We emerged in the middle of Yester Hill.  Evidently, we had taken a short rest so eventually we just got going.  Vasili was nowhere to be found but our wagon was still there waiting for...

Friday, 08 October 2021 10:42

After trying to remember what we were trying to do, we headed to the next survivor.  A seamstress with a shop nearby.  It was still early morning so she was not open for business. ...

Saturday, 02 October 2021 22:35

In general, I enjoy fiddling around with Joomla and the website.  There are times, however, when it is maddening.  Last week the site went down.  At first, I blamed the domain server...

Saturday, 24 October 2020 16:40

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Saturday, 24 October 2020 16:18

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Wednesday, 27 May 2020 19:49

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Monday, 25 May 2020 13:13

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Monday, 25 May 2020 10:19

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Tuesday, 05 May 2020 16:31

 Palladium Megaverse Characters: Brian Wade started wanting a Legolas archer.  Dan convinced him he could be a wizard and still be an effective archer on the side.  Wade...

Monday, 04 May 2020 09:55

Ranma ½ is the property and invention of Rumiko Takahashi. The following story is not produced for any monetary or personal gain.   Tracking the clues Thoth has given him to find the madmen...

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

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 18:29

The Lost Characters from games that have no other records.  Games that may have run for years... yet not that much is known.  Here lie the remnants of campaigns that were once great and...

Tuesday, 28 April 2020 18:47

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Tuesday, 28 April 2020 17:35

The Archives I am the Watcher... er, a player.  Throughout the years many campaigns have been played.  I would like to say the memories they create are eternal... but they aren't. ...

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Chapter 3: Infestation

"Eek! A cockroach!" Ukyo froze at the sound of the dreaded cry. She quickly looked over at the tables where a very short bipedal creature covered in a spiky chitinous shell was viciously beating a customer. The other clients were either engaged in attempting to fend off other similar creatures or running towards the door. Ukyo felt her heart sink, this was incredibly bad for business.

Leaping over the counter she skillfully propelled the creatures into the corner and proceeded to beat the little vermin into oblivion. These bugs seemed to be about as strong as an average man, but Ukyo was a martial artist. No insect infestation was going to attack her customers.

She turned towards the people she had rescued moments before, to ensure they were unharmed. "Are you guys alright?"

"That was disgusting. Don't you have any respect for your clients? I'm calling the Health Inspectors!" the angry, beaten man roared.

"But... it's a fluke. The Inspectors were just here a month ago. They gave me perfect marks! Here let me make it up to you with free Okonomiyaki!" Ukyo cried out in desperation.

"You're going to c... cook with that?" The man turned an interesting shade of green and raced out the door. The sounds of someone being noisily sick were heard soon after.

Ukyo looked around puzzled, "What was his problem?" She was about to put away her battle spatula when she noticed the slime and iridescent green gore that clung to it. "Eww. I guess I can't cook with this. I better clean this stuff up before the inspector gets here. Maybe I should get some of that industrial-strength RAID." Still pondering the ramifications of the day's disaster, she began to gloomily clean up her restaurant. If she hadn't been so intent on calculating potential lost business she might have noticed the people running around in the street outside, chased by numerous insectile creatures.

 

 

Ranma was exhausted, earlier in the day he had come running into the kitchen at the sound of a short scream. On his arrival he had seen Kasumi on the phone frantically calling the exterminators. In the corner he noted a Lassae demon huddled into a corner being systematically beaten by a horde of animated household tools. He may even have felt some sympathy for the creature if not for his own encounters with the ferocious beasts.

Rounding up some rope he securely tied the creature up, and went searching for others. He had come across four more of the things skulking about the house or yard. Subduing them was simple. As demons went they were among the weakest he knew of. Oh, a normal man might have trouble with a fight, but since almost everyone in Nerima knew at least some minor sort of martial arts he was confident there was no real danger.

He gathered together Jess, Akane, Soun and his father and went out to comb the neighborhood for more of the little menaces. Once out in the streets, the hard part began. These things were everywhere. The streets appeared a scene straight from a bad grade B movie. Any moment he expected some idiot in a Styrofoam suit to waddle down the street and fight an equally poorly dressed fake robot.

The work was more disgusting than anything else. The monsters died easily. A blow that would have merely stunned Ukyo, Shampoo, or even Akane, would quite crush the little fellows. Even Genma, coward that he was, didn't fear the ugly bug creatures. But there were so many of them that it had taken far into the evening until they were confident that the streets were safe. During the search they picked up Shampoo, Mousse, and even Ryouga. In fact, they kept on picking up Ryouga, since he insisted on repeatedly getting lost every few minutes. Fortunately, without his uncontrolled teleporting he was relatively easily found.

When they finally arrived at the Tendo house late that night, they were mobbed by concerned brushes and mops that took offense to people walking in, tracking ichor on the floor. Ranma wasn't sure how to feel about this part. On the one hand, it was nice to get that clinging slime off.  On the other hand, he had about enough of being harassed by some damned cleaning utensils. If Kasumi hadn't seemed so happy about having the things around he would have found a way to deal with the things on a more permanent basis.

Once the group was clean, if feeling slightly violated, they sat in the living room and Ranma explained in a more leisurely fashion exactly what the demons were, where they were from and the general way his last encounter in the Timiro Kingdom had faired. For occasional verification, he turned to Cindra, who remembered the first encounter well. Since she still was unaware that Ranma and Ranko were the same person, she was not very flattering in her account of the trial. When Ranma objected to her version, she would ask how he knew of the events. This usually was enough to silence the martial artist. By the end of his story he was resentfully glaring at an oblivious Cindra.

At the end of the narration, Ranma was shocked out of his sulk when a shimmering figure began to form in the midst of the group. The martial artists jumped backward and assumed their various defensive postures. When the blurred image solidified into a six-foot-tall ibis-headed man, Ranma relaxed, aware of the newcomer’s identity. The others were slower in their recognition, Mousse and Ryouga going so far as to actually leap at the apparent monster. They collided in midair as they met where the god's form supposedly was.

Ranma just shook his head. He had assumed it was merely an image when he had sensed the tingle of magic but not the overwhelmingly strong chi signature he had come to associate with gods. Seeing his companions in a tangle at the image's feet made his face red in embarrassment.

"I humbly greet you, My Lord Thoth, Bringer of enlightenment and wisdom," Cindra graciously stood and performed a low curtsy. Ironically since she came from a world where the worship of gods in general, and the pantheon of Ra in particular, was common, she was also the only one in the room that had a clue how to greet a god.

"Greetings, little one," Thoth said politely. He ignored the pile of people at his feet, turning his attention directly to Ranma.

"Hey! What's up?" Ranma asked eagerly. He'd been home for several months and trying to balance his reoccurring foes and his fiancées was becoming rather taxing. Ranma wasn't retreating, but a temporary tactical withdrawal might be in order.

"I have news of some possible leads. When you have your affairs in order we can start on our attempt to flush our foe's conspiracy into the open."

"Well, I guess I could go now. I mean everybody is here, so I could just say goodbye to everyone at once."

"Wait a minute, Ranma" a firm voice interjected. Looking around Ranma noticed with surprise Nabiki staring at him.

"Huh?" Ranma asked. If Nabiki wanted something, someone was going home a poorer man.

"I don't like being in the dark. If you go now we won't know anything until you come back. I think we deserve to be involved a little more in your little fling." Surprisingly the other in the group proceeded to speak up as well, declaring their desire to know what was happening.

"Well... it's really not my decision," he said looking sideways at Thoth, showing far more prudence than he normally did.

"Well, I suppose it can't cause any harm. Of course, I would have to place a geas on all those here to prevent the spread of unfortunate tales. Assuming this is acceptable we could discuss the plans here. After I make a few preparations." He looked questioningly at the people surrounding him.

"Ah, perhaps I should go on some errands. I think Nodoka wanted some things for dinner tonight," Genma stated nervously. Obviously not wanting to be involved in issues dealing with the Netherworld.

"What an excellent idea, my friend. I think I'll go with you and pick up a few things for Kasumi. In fact, why doesn't Kasumi come with us," Soun said with false heartiness.

"Oh don't worry father. I have plenty of food for all of us. Besides, I'm sure Mr. Thoth would like some tea." Kasumi merrily replied, ignoring the fact that it was merely Thoth's image there. Thoth did give her a slightly puzzled look but merely shrugged.

"Oh. All right. I guess we'll get something for tomorrow's meal." The two men made a rapid exit from the house, patting themselves on the back for being considerate enough to help with the chores.

After they had left, Nabiki looked Thoth straight in the eyes and asked, "Alright, everybody who wants to be here, is. Let's hear what's going on."

"Hold on one moment. Considering you have a pair of Dire Harpies flying a holding pattern above your house and a couple of Lassae demons observing the house from across the street, I think I'll place a shield around our location. I doubt it would be good to have Leviathan know our plans. She's too shortsighted to put aside her petty concerns."

"Leviathan?" Ranma exclaimed running over to the window and looking up.

"I doubt you can see her minions from here. If you reach your senses out, you may be able to perceive their otherworldly energies. But they really aren't important right now," Thoth said as his eyes glowed like twin suns. Strange words poured from his tongue, twisting in one's mind, at the edge of understanding, yet finally slipping away from conscious recall. After a timeless moment, a shimmering barrier formed around the inside of the room. Ranma, who was by the window, staring out, witnessed the world seeming to freeze. The wind ceased moving the trees, the few people on the street halted in mid-step.

"There are many magics that can be used to spy on the actions and words of others. This magic has the advantage of removing us from the perceptions of all such parties. Only fourth-dimensional creatures would have the opportunity to overhear our conversations, and I believe I would sense their presence."

"And the geas?" Nabiki asked with some trepidation, unsure of what she had involved herself and everybody else in.

"I included that in the enchantment. Don't worry. It will simply keep you from letting slip any secrets we may discuss."

"Now why don't I find that reassuring," Nabiki said.

"I wouldn't presume to guess," Thoth said with humor in his tone. "Now if the preliminaries are out of the way..."

"Wait a minute! Why is Leviathon after me? Anhur told me the Deevil Lords wouldn't hold grudges against a mere mortal." Ranma objected.

"Well, that is a bit odd. Leviathan has always been petty, with a rather wide cruel streak, but this seems to go a bit beyond that. Did you perhaps catch her attention in some manner?"

"Yeah... she was pounding away at Ammit. She wasn't really winning or nuthin, but I could tell she was delaying us enough that Mephisto might actually get there in time. So I caught her attention, and gave Ammit enough breathing space to go on the offensive."

"Exactly how did you catch her attention?" Nabiki inquired, smirking as she guessed the answer.

"Well, the usual things you say in battle. You know."

"Ranma! You didn't… call her names or something. Did you?" Akane asked, knowing the answer.

"Well, I might have said something about her being uncute."

The females in the group gave a collective groan. "Ranma don't you know that's the worst thing you can say to a woman!" Akane exclaimed.

"So you don't think it was the 'built like a brick' comment or the comparison to an ox? Well, if that's all, she can't be too angry," Ranma innocently stated.

"Ranma, what kind of idiot are you? I'm surprised you didn't call her a violent tomboy. You seemed to have called her everything else!" Akane shouted.

Ranma chuckled nervously, placing his hand behind his neck in an unconscious gesture, "Heh, heh. Now why would I do that? How common are tomboys? I mean you're the only one I've ever seen around here." Ranma froze as it slowly dawned on him what had just come out of his mouth.

The exclamations of "Die Ranma!" "How dare you call Akane names!" quickly followed. Ranma probably would have fared adequately in the following brawl except for the initial hammer blow that stunned him long enough for his rivals to close in on him. Thoth looked on in bemusement for several minutes, until it became apparent that the combat showed no sign of ending in the near future.

"Enough! We have a mission briefing to get through. You can play later." Thoth waited a moment to see if his words had any effect. Observing that he was being ignored, he drew upon his magic, casting an enchantment of his own design. A glowing mist rose from the floor, quickly spreading to encompass the entire house within the temporally active area. Immediately, those rolling, leaping and kicking around on the floor froze in the position they had been in. Many were in an awkward or unbalanced position and promptly toppled over.

The only people unaffected were Kasumi, Cindra, Nabiki, Jess, and Ranma. Kasumi, Cindra, Nabiki and Jess had moved off to the side, none too anxious to get between the martial artist and the object of their wrath. Ranma, who had been the object of that wrath, had been initially stunned and not allowed to recover. He sat a bruised mass, on the floor looking at his frozen companions in bewilderment. And not a little relief.

"Are they alright?" Jess politely asked the god.

"They are fine. The spell simply disabled all aggressors, acts of violence or destruction. In this case, they are paralyzed. Those not engaging in such acts remain unaffected. I designed it some millennia ago during a delicate peace conference. It had more in common with your friend's games than I like to think of."

"What a fine spell!" Kasumi enthused. "Is there any way to make it permanent?"

"What? You can't do that! This is a dojo! What kind of dojo zaps you if you start fighting?" Ranma exclaimed.

"I could but it would be costly for me. I don't really see a need for it quite yet. If supernatural forces involved with our plan take a more active interest in Ranma's origin's I will reconsider. If I do, I will limit it to the house. Ranma has a valid point about the dojo, I suppose." Ranma sighed in relief, his fears temporarily laid to rest. "Now, if you don't mind, let's start the meeting."

"Are you going to leave them that way?" Jess asked.

"Yes. They're much quieter this way. They can hear fine." Thoth stated dismissively.

"Oh dear. They look so uncomfortable. I'll just position them more comfortably." Kasumi then proceeded to sort out the fallen bodies into rows on the floor. It really looked rather disturbing to the watching pigtailed martial artist.

"Oh Ranma! How exciting! Now that those unworthy strumpets are out of the way I can have you to myself." So saying, she flung herself on the startled boy. The pile of paralyzed boys and girls started to emit angry battle auras as this was witnessed. Ranma was even more surprised when Cindra's body stiffened and she fell against him. He caught the girl before she could fall to the floor.

"This version of the spell is strongly dependent on what the target considers aggressive," Thoth calmly explained the girl's frozen state. A slow grin dawned on Ranma's face.

"I think this spell would be very good on the house." I might even get to relax once in a while, Ranma thought. I wonder if I can get Thoth to cast it on Mom's house too, it sure would save on the expense of having it rebuilt every time the fiancée crew went on a rampage. Kasumi took the immobile girl from Ranma's arms and placed her on the floor with the others while humming a merry little tune.

"Now that we are settled down a bit, let's start."  The people left standing drifted towards their seats. “There is another dimension where there exists an alternate Earth. For reasons soon to be explained, we will call it Rifts Earth. Rifts Earth is similar to your world of today about three hundred years after a holocaust. The holocaust wasn't a nuclear exchange, it was rather the demons and hordes of supernatural entities that followed an aborted nuclear exchange. Rifts Earth had, in the past, been a magic rich world. Due to the same disaster which caused Atlantis to fade from your dimension ten thousand years ago..."

"Atlantis was real?" Ranma exclaimed in disbelief.

"Yes. Now be quiet, this gets a bit involved,” Thoth paused to gather his thoughts. “Anyway, the magic energy of both your worlds began to dwindle to the pathetic trickle of what it is today in your world. Like your own world, the science of magic did not survive, leaving only the more mundane mechanics of the world in its place. Sometime in the early 21st century, a limited nuclear exchange occurred. It may have been the start of World War III, but it heralded the end of mankind's dominion of the Earth. The first salvo merely killed a few million, a terrible tragedy, but small on a global scale. The results of this salvo destroyed civilization. The psychic and magical energy released by these simultaneous deaths flowed to the dormant ley lines, swelling them into huge torrents of unfocussed power."

"What's a ley line?" Ranma asked in a confused tone.

"Just as the human body has veins and arteries to carry blood, planets develop lines where the excess ambient magical energy or life force are attracted to and flow across the face of the planet. Your planet is so low in energy that it takes a very sensitive individual to detect these lines. Rift Earth's ley lines are much more impressive and visible, you may also have heard them referred to as dragon lines."

Nabiki nodded but Ranma simply shrugged his shoulders. "Where these ley lines met they pooled their energies into reservoirs called nexus. These bloated nexus ripped the very fabric of the universe opening Rifts into other random and often hostile worlds. No, it wasn't the nuclear weaponry that destroyed humanity, it was the supernatural horrors that came after."

"Didn't they have martial artists to protect them?"

"No, they didn't. Or at least not ones of your caliber. I would think even your group would have had trouble protect more than a town or two. It's simply a question of numbers. The Rifts and heightened magical energy proved self-perpetuating, three hundred years later incredible magical energies still flow across the world along the ley lines. Supernatural creatures still rage across the face of the planet, mostly keeping each other in check enough to ensure no one entity achieved dominion. Mankind is just recovering enough to cobble something together worthy of being named civilization. Humans have learned through hard-fought survival to channel and control the energies known as magic. Similar to the mastery achieved in the last world you were in, though the magnitude of the energy is different. In other areas science has recovered enough to almost achieve the pinnacle it achieved before the Rifts, giving mankind a chance at winning back a foothold on the world they once claimed."

"This sounds like a very dangerous place," Nabiki stated.

"That's okay, I'll show those monsters not to mess with a Soatome."

"Actually the place where you'll be going is mostly inhabited by humans. It is the Japanese analog in Rifts Earth."

"So it's similar to here? But you said…" Ranma started to ask.

"I was speaking of the world in general. Japan is an unusual case. They fared better than most. They were closer to their traditional roots than many others and were able to readapt their religion and what little they remembered ancient magic. Most people still died, but civilization recovered along more traditional lines a mere hundred years later. In other areas technology is making a strong reappearance." Thoth chuckled at a pun only he knew of.

"Back when the Rifts were first formed one of the Japanese cities was experimenting in some very elementary dimensional physics. It happened to coincide with the reopening of the Rifts. Due to some harmonic interaction, several cities were removed from the face of the earth, displaced into pocket dimensions, and just recently returned to the normal space-time continuum. These cities still have their pre Rifts technology. They now get along with the existing anti-technology provinces with varying degrees of success. One of the existing provinces who had rebuilt their own technology from the ruins of the old is not taking the reappearance of these newcomers well. They have made plans that could be extremely harmful to the human-controlled lands."

"What exactly does Ranma have to worry about regarding the non-human controlled land?" Nabiki asked. She may have been greedy, but Ranma was her... well almost... brother in law. It was sounding more dangerous by the minute.

"He most likely won't have to worry much about them. The clues I have gathered point to the more technically inclined. The Otomo Shogunate specifically."

"Shogunate? As in Shogun? Isn't that a bit...backward?" Ranma asked.

"Many have chosen to reorganize along more traditional lines. Shinto has become the major religion in many provinces. The New Empire in particular."

"Wow, they really worship the Emperor?" Ranma asked bemusedly.

"Some areas in the New Empire do, others merely show extreme respect. The Otomo Shogunate is not part of the Empire and is not one of these. If they had a chance, they would conquer the New Empire without a second thought. The petty politics and schemes of the various Japanese states are not your problem. When you get there it wouldn't hurt to know who is who, just so you don't step on the wrong toes." Thoth took a long look at Ranma. "Then again, I suppose some conflict is inevitable. Try to keep it to a dull roar."

"What's that supposed to mean? I can stay out of trouble!" Ranma defiantly proclaimed. This caused Nabiki to chuckle and even Jess smiled.

"Yes. Of course. Anyway, the Otomo Shogunate is conspiring with the Oni and the local source of technology, H-Brand, to unbalance and then take over their neighbors. H-Brand was the major source of technology before the old cities came back. It would be unfortunate for Japan, but unimportant to the bigger picture if this occurred. Except for the fact that certain deals have been made with those in Atlantis. This deal hints at the control of some great supernatural entity in the future. This could be a reference to the Old Ones."

"Or it could be the megalomaniac rambling of a madman," Nabiki pointed out.

"Yes. It's certainly not unknown for the power-mad to make exaggerated boasts. But considering that failure may lead to an inter-dimensional war, the like of which hasn't been seen for a hundred thousand years, I think we should explore this option. It's the best lead I've been able to find after several months of searching," Thoth patiently explained.

"So tell me about Atlantis," Ranma asked.

"It may be a while until you actually get to Atlantis. It will need to be indirectly approached since we don't want to scare our prey into premature hiding. I'll drop you off in Japan and you can make your way to the Otomo Shogunate. Finding out more detailed information will be up to you. I suggest you keep your male and female identities separate. It should give you more flexibility in dealing with people."

Nabiki looked over at Cindra, noting the blank look in her eyes. It could have been merely the paralysis but somehow she doubted this part of the conversation was registering with her.

"Okay, and Atlantis?" Ranma repeated.

"The once-lost continent of Atlantis reappeared during the dimensional fluctuations rampant during the initial opening of the Rifts," Thoth stated, aware it would be faster to explain than argue with the stubborn martial artist. "The original noble, though arrogant, race that once inhabited it has left the Earth Rifts dimension long gone. Replacing them is the Splugorth and their minions. The Splugorth are a race of powerful extra-dimensional Alien Intelligences."

"Splynncryth, the present owner of Atlantis, has always been a very congenial, pleasant sort when we meet. However, I have no illusions of how he treats mortals. Humans usually have short, brutal lives in Atlantis.  When you do go there you will need to tread carefully. Splynncryth maintains control of this new land, mostly watching the events in the world around him. Occasionally his minions raid other lands for slaves. For now, the struggle with other supernatural entities that total dominion of Rifts Earth would require is felt to be not quite worth the effort for him. Make no mistake though; the untold billions that the Splugorth in general, and Splynncryth in particular, name as their minions remain available, waiting for the call to arms on their own worlds."

"Billions? It sounds hopeless," Nabiki interjected. Even Ranma seemed a bit nonplussed.

"The good part is that many of the other Gods and Intelligences that have made their home on that planet have similar resources. They usually keep each other in check. A full-fledged war would destroy the territory they argue over and create ill-feeling with other powerful creatures. This means that usually only small skirmishes and raids are fought. The unfortunate part of this stalemate is that the native humans have very little chance of completely reclaiming their planet in any foreseeable future. I'll give you more detailed information when you actually go there."

"As for your more immediate trip to Japan, I suggest you use your female identity for the diplomatic envoy from the city of Lazlo. You have a more detailed background in the folder." A folder containing a sheath of papers appeared in the air, falling at Ranma's feet. "In short Lazlo is a city in the North American Continent. It is a city mostly dominated by magic, although they have close ties with technologically advanced neighboring city-states."

"They have a fair mix of human and non-human and welcome almost any creature of peaceful intent. They also have quite a few explorers searching the world and nearby dimensions for possible allies. The area they live in has a precarious balance of power, and they live in constant danger from the more violent supernatural creatures and even their less pleasant human neighbors. Their last explorer was killed by the Otomo Shogunate. The Shogunate will be confused as to how you got past their defenses, but not surprised at your presence. In this identity you should be able to make peaceful contact with the New Empire, the Republic of Japan, Takamatsu, and maybe Ichto.  Ichto tends to be anti-magic, so that is questionable."

"The second identity is of a simple hapless dimensional wanderer, who was unfortunate enough to fall through a rift. Since you are obviously of human Japanese descent this is a generic enough origin to be accepted almost anywhere. Unlike your diplomat persona you may not be granted as much freedom or flexibility in the New Empire, the Republic of Japan or Takumatsu. However, your acceptance in Ichto and the Otomo Shugunate should be very smooth."

"What if people actually want to make agreements with Lazlo through Ranma?" Nabiki asked.

"Let them," Thoth shrugged, "I have contacts in Lazlo. As long as the terms are fair, the agreement will hold, when Lazlo is in reality contacted. I suggest you speak with Nabiki first before you close any deal. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders." Nabiki felt rather faint, not at the god's praise, but at the opportunity before her.

"Wait a minute! He’s going to be in another dimension. How's he going to communicate with me?" asked Nabiki, snapping out of her dreams of profit.

"This should help," a thick tome fell in her lap. "The next thing you should know is probably the most important from a mere practical standpoint." A ceramic brick fell on Ranma's head, creating a loud thumping noise. Ranma merely looked at the brick in puzzlement. "Try to smash it, I'll repress the Sanctuary enchantment for you," Thoth prompted.

"Er... okay," a confused Ranma responded. Quickly gathering his chi he brought his fist down on the brick. Ranma was stunned when he recovered from the strike to find the object undamaged. "What? How? What is this stuff." A frustrated Ranma gathered more chi and intensified his attacks on the seemingly impervious block.

"As technology advances, so does the material sciences. In your own terms, you wouldn't expect a gun fired at a tank to inflict any significant damage. Well, this substance is advanced armor from the Japan Ranma will be going to. It is used as armor for land and air transports, personal armor, Robot vehicles, and even buildings." Meanwhile, Ranma had been going mad trying to break the stubborn slab. So far he had only created a fine network of spiderweb-like cracks that didn't go deeper than the surface. Angry at not achieving his goal, he finally struck out with his ‘Breaking Point’ technique.

"Thank you, Ranma. I really needed that," a now dust-covered Nabiki growled out in a sarcastic tone. Ranma ignored her, gloating over his victory of the inanimate object.

"Very good. I hadn't expected you would be able to accomplish that so easily. This will make things easier. I doubt that will work on magical armor though."

"If that world has armor that strong, what kind of weapons are they using to fight each other with," Nabiki asked, not sure she wanted to know the answer.

"They are devastating. For some weapons, the equivalent energy of a nuclear bomb is harnessed," Ranma stopped dancing around in victory, looking at Thoth with a suddenly pale complexion.

"Nuclear? What am I supposed to do against that?" a panicked Ranma cried out.

"A normal human would die if he had no armor or other protection. Supernatural and some magical creatures absorb magical energy like a sponge. Their bodies automatically use this energy to reinforce the body's structure. In short, they become as durable, sometimes even more so than that brick you just shattered. Similar things happen to the creature's attacks. Though stronger than an average human it is not the creature’s strength that causes its considerable damage it is the concentrated magical energy within the creature’s structure which mostly inflicts the damage, although it is amplified by the strength. This is why the pre-Rifts civilization fell, despite their impressive technology and military might."

"They might have fared better if it hadn't been a complete surprise," Nabiki chimed in; she had an idea where his explanation was going.

Ranma didn't.  "What does this have to do with me? It sounds like everyone there will be unaffected by my attacks, and I get vaporized if they lay a hand on me," he loudly complained.

"One of the reasons I chose you is your specific brand of martial arts. The years you have spent using chi to mold your body into the perfect fighting machine has changed you. You now fit into the category of the creatures I mentioned, who will absorb the ambient magical energy to enhance your structural durability. The ‘Breaking Point’ training you have undergone has significantly enhanced this ability as well. The final benefit you have is your curse. Its form, though human, owes its entire existence to enchantment. When in this form, it will add a small but noteworthy amount to your overall toughness and healing."

"I'm going to have the power of a nuclear bomb in my hands," Ranma looked in wonder at his hands, as if they would suddenly be engulfed in atomic fire.

"Really Ranma, that was just an example. Your chi bursts and your punches may contain a similar kinetic force, but there's nothing of actual fusion or fission involved. You need not worry about radiation or fallout when using your abilities. Just be aware that most of the others you meet will have similar abilities. It's a very dangerous world you are entering."

"How do humans survive," Nabiki asked.

"Carefully. Mages have created enchanted armor and weapons. The cities have a slew of powerful weapons, vehicles, and armor. There are even some fighters who have limited chi manipulation capabilities. They all manage to hold their own against the supernatural forces arrayed against them. The most danger this Japan faces comes from their fellow humans, although those humans have allied themselves with Oni. This, of course, discounts the danger from Old Ones and Splugorth, which we may have to worry about in the future."

"Study that folder carefully. I will be back in a week to send you to that world's Japan. In the meantime, I will make the Sanctuary spell permanent, within the house. It will give you a little bit more time to study. The paralysis only lasts a half an hour with this spell version. Goodbye."

With those final words, the image of Thoth slowly faded, as did the temporal barrier around the house.

"This is awesome! I might actually get some peace and quiet without Mousse and a certain Uncute Tomboy..." his diatribe was cut off suddenly. Nabiki looked over to her possible brother in law to see him paralyzed in mid insult.

"Well, Thoth did say the magic depended on what the recipient thought was an aggressive or hostile action. I imagine you and Akane are going to be spending a considerable amount of time not moving in the next week. Wow, I hope I can handle the peace," Nabiki chuckled to herself.  She found it ironic that Thoth had so quickly reversed his decision upon coming into contact with Ranma's friends.

"What did Thoth give you?" Jess moved from the corner she'd been sitting in and walked over to Nabiki. Together they sat on the couch and looked over Thoth's gift. Kasumi started dusting the guests.

"Hmm. 'How To Become A Priest Of Thoth In Ten Easy Steps, written by Thoth'," Nabiki started to read the book, with Jess looking over her shoulder. It promised to be an interesting week.

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