Title: Ryouga vs. the Road Runner
Author: Rowan Seven
Teaser: The title is self-explanatory.
Rating: PG-13 just to be safe.
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 and Looney Tunes belong to their respective creators and copyright holders, as do the other characters and settings in this story that don't belong to me. I make no claims to these characters and am making no financial profit from writing this story.
Author's Notes: Posted at the end and shown in the story with cardinal numbers enclosed in parentheses.

The sun-baked desert stretched on as far as the eye could see in every direction, a landscape of muted colors, craggy contours, and of seemingly limitless rock and sand with only the occasional cactus providing relief from the monotony. It was a bleak vista filled with a silence that only existed apart from civilization, in places that had existed long before the encroachment of men and would still endure long after humanity's cities crumbled to dust.

"Where in the world am I now?"

A silence that was now broken by one man's plaintive cry. Neither receiving nor expecting an answer, the Eternally Lost Boy sighed, readjusted the straps of the heavy backpack around his shoulders, and tirelessly trudged on. He'd been wandering this desert for the past week, and while he appreciated the peace and quiet nature offered more than most he could only go so long without hearing a human voice, even if it was only his own. Besides, sometimes shouting at the top of one's lungs paid off and attracted people you'd never have known were nearby otherwise. It had also caused an avalanche and garnered the unwanted attention of a yeti once, in his experience, but you'd never know if you didn't try and he didn't think he needed to worry about any snow monsters in these temperatures.

Shaking his head once to clear it of such musings, Hibiki Ryouga continued his endless journey in comparative silence. The teenaged youth wore a black on yellow checkered bandana around his forehead and black hair and was clothed in a travel-stained yellow shirt and brown pants. A red bamboo umbrella was strung across the top of his backpack, and a pair of weary but determined brown eyes gazed out at the world. If the young man was at all affected by the elements he showed no signs of it, powerful frame and long stride quickly covering the vast distance before him despite the immense weight he was carrying. After so long on the road, neither the sun nor heat bothered him now.

Finally, the traveler came across his first sign of civilization in days and stopped, a slight smile alighting across his features and revealing his small fangs. Before him, seemingly stretching on to the unseen ends of the desert itself, was a paved road of concrete. With a silent prayer of thanks to the gods, Ryouga effortlessly leaped over the several yards separating him from the highway and landed gracefully on the artificial surface. Sparing quick glances to both the right and the left and seeing that neither one looked better than the other, he chose a direction at random and began to walk along the edge of the road.

"Heh, this is great," Ryouga remarked to himself, casually taking a small booklet out of his left pants pocket and skimming through it in search of something. "There's bound to be a sign along this road eventually and maybe even a village, and once I know where I am I can figure out how to get to that ancient training ground I read about in this book. Then, after completing my training, I will finally be able to defeat Ranma and confess my feelings to Akane! Oh Akane, please wait for me..."

The youth went starry-eyed as he began to become lost in his cherished dream, but before his fantasy could cause him to wander from the road the Eternally Lost Boy was brought back to reality by a noise he would soon come to dread and loathe with almost as much intensity as the name Ranma.


Unhindered despite the massive weight burdening his shoulders, Ryouga immediately spun around and assumed a guarded stance to face whatever it was that had snuck up on him. He quickly relaxed when he spied what it was that had startled him, though, and even laughed at the situation. Standing less than a yard away was a tall blue and lavender bird unlike any the Eternally Lost Boy had seen before, reaching perhaps a full four feet in height with long, slender legs, an orange bill, and blue plumage atop its head. The avian looked at the traveler with unusually affable eyes for an animal that seemed to sparkle with amusement but were otherwise benign.

Ryouga shook his head again, chuckling at the absurdity of the scene. Here he was, a wandering martial artist who had faced everything from ghosts to demons shocked by a bird of all things that had managed to get behind him without his noticing. "Feh, I guess I still need to improve my concentration if I was so distracted I didn't hear you approach. Well, there's nothing to do about that except train more." He bowed politely to the bird once, uncharacteristic smile still on his face. "Thanks for the lesson. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way."


Before the Lost Boy could turn around, the avian repeated its cry and with a speed faster than anything he had ever seen before barreled past him and disappeared into the distance. The sheer force behind the creature's passing spun the surprised youth around several times, causing him to drop his booklet before he too fell to the ground in disarray.

"What the heck was that?" Ryouga growled from the concrete, no longer amused by the situation. Muttering to himself, he stretched out an arm and prepared to stand back up when suddenly, unexpectedly, and with almost as much speed as that accursed bird that had just knocked him over a abnormally large, brown, and strangely bipedal coyote raced down the highway and, indifferent to the plight of the human in its way, stepped on and over the Lost Boy's head.

Picking his head up from the concrete for the second time that day, the Lost Boy sighed and shook his head in bemusement. "The world is dark and lonely place," he muttered reflexively as he cautiously rose to his feet, mind filled with uncharacteristic thoughts of violence towards animals. Now standing, he bent over to retrieve his small booklet which in accordance with the coincidences that followed the Nerima Wrecking Crew around had landed face-up and turned to a page that conveniently pictured the bird Ryouga had just seen. Surprised and curious, the young man brought the book closer to his face and read the accompanying caption aloud.

"The Trial of the Road Runner – One of the famous Ancient Challenges of Martial Expertise (ACME), only the most diligent and talented of martial artists can hope to complete this trial. Those who do pursue and successfully capture the roadrunner gain unmatched speed and resilience and power beyond comprehension from the experience, but the path to victory against the roadrunner is hard and painful. Do not undertake this training lightly."

Ryouga grinned tenaciously and returned the booklet to his pockets. "Unmatched speed and resilience, eh? I'm already pretty tough, but I like the sound of the former. Hehe, once I've completed this trial Ranma won't stand a chance against me!" He turn turned to what he assumed was the east, a brooding expression falling across his features. "Forgive me for staying away for so long and leaving you alone with that cross-dressing jerk, Akane, but it's for the greater good and soon Ranma will no longer be able to bother us. Until the day I return with the skill to defeat him, please be safe. You'll be in my heart."

Soliloquy given, the Eternally Lost Boy's face became a rictus of determination and he charged after the departed forms of the roadrunner and coyote he'd recently encountered, unaware of the Genma-esque error he was committing. Namely, if he had turned to the next page in his booklet he would've seen numerous exclamation marks and cautions accompanied by several drawings quite clearly illustrating pain and danger, all warning against attempting to do what he was now resolved to accomplish.

Of course, under normal circumstances Ryouga would have become hopelessly lost after five minutes anyway and end up anywhere from the Wal-Mart in the lost kingdom of Atlantis to the Tendo household's closet regardless of whether he chose to follow the roadrunner or not, rendering this a moot point, but these were not normal circumstances. At least, not normal in the sense reserved for most of humanity. In Ryouga's special case, because chasing the Road Runner held more potential for embarrassment, frustration, and personal injuries than even Nerima (only because this was a slow week), he missed the twists and turns that would have seen him involved in a comparatively safer adventure concerning Inspector Gadget's efforts to foil Carmen San Diego's scheme to claim the time-traveling Phoenix Gate and actually managed to run in a relatively straight line.

In other words, the universe was out to get him...hard.


-Velocitus Incredibus-


-Caninus Slyanious Rex-

"Stand still and face me like a man, you bird!"

-Martial-articus Hibikanus-

Three figures sped down an otherwise empty highway, the leader a tall, proud roadrunner and the latter two a sly bipedal coyote and a young man with a red bamboo umbrella held tightly in his right hand. The first two were no strangers to this road, their rivalry and chase having become the stuff of legends long ago. The third, however, was a newcomer, but despite his unfamiliarity with the terrain and setting the human boy was managing to keep up with the two vastly more experienced runners. While not the quickest of martial artists, Ryouga was one of the strongest in Nerima and now the Lost Boy's powerful legs rapidly propelled him across the pavement in long, mighty strides that enabled him to travel at speeds even his greatest rival might be hard-pressed to maintain for long.

The Lost Boy grinned as he slowly overtook and passed the coyote in front of him, feeling a sense of satisfaction at the annoyed glare the predator sent his way as he remembered how the lupine creature had thoughtlessly stepped on him earlier in the day. Nobody made light of Hibiki Ryouga and got away with it! Still, his true target lay ahead, and having accomplished one goal the young martial artist redoubled his efforts to accomplish his second, pushing himself to even greater speeds. So incrementally it was almost painful to watch, he gained on the roadrunner too. When the lightning-fast avian came within striking distance, the Lost Boy raised his umbrella over his head and brought it down in a swift, sure stroke-

-only to completely miss as his target suddenly veered to the left!

Barely managing to stay on his two feet as he made his own sharp turn in pursuit, Ryouga noted with pleasant surprise that the roadrunner was running straight for the edge of cliff. "There's no escape for you now, bird! Soon you will-eh?" The rest of the Lost Boy's victory speech was abruptly terminated as his newest enemy ran off the cliff ledge and continued effortlessly across the adjoining chasm to the cliff on the opposite side where the creature proceeded to disappear into the distance of the desert.

Ryouga forced himself to come to a hasty stop, his sheer momentum almost carrying him off the side of the cliff. Very carefully to make sure he wasn't imagining things, he looked down at the gulf that separated the two cliffs and poked with his umbrella where he'd seen the roadrunner running. Sure enough, the tip of his umbrella passed through empty space. He scratched the top of his head in confusion. "Can roadrunners fly? I didn't see it spread its wings, but maybe at those speeds..."

Then, to further add to his puzzlement, the coyote caught up with him and, like the roadrunner, dashed off the cliff and continued running as if it was on solid ground.

Ryouga blinked. Then he blinked again. "Oi, coyote! How are you running on air?" he called out, rubbing his eyes and wondering if he'd been out in the sun for too long. He didn't think he was prone to mirages, but those nice men in black suits he'd met three months ago had insisted that everything he'd seen at what they called Area 51 were merely hallucinations. Why he'd imagine seeing aliens when he already saw plenty of them simply by wandering around Japan he had no idea, but when those men had tried to get him to look at a pen light for some peculiar reason he figured he was better off just nodding and walked away. Crazy Americans.

Unexpectedly, the coyote stopped in mid-air and turned to look at the Lost Boy, obviously irritated. As Ryouga's mouth gaped open in surprise, the furry lupine reluctantly looked down, its yellow eyes widening noticeably as they observed the vast distance that separated their owner from the rocky ground below. The bipedal creature sighed once, apparently unsurprised, and withdrew a wooden sign from...somewhere (Ryouga briefly wondered if the coyote somehow knew Genma).

-You just had to bring gravity into this, didn't you?- the sign read. Then, with an aplomb born from repeatedly falling from great heights, the coyote plummeted!

For a moment, Ryouga stood still in shock, his mind trying to process the blatant defiance of the laws of physics that had occurred in the past five minutes. Then, realizing that the coyote was falling presumably to its death, his martial artist instincts sprang into action and he prepared to run down the cliff face and try to rescue the unfortunate animal. Just as he leapt, though, something surprised him from behind.


"You!" Ryouga shouted, spinning in mid-air to face the roadrunner and unwisely bringing his jump short to land on the very edge of the cliff. The roadrunner casually ducked its head under the Lost Boy's umbrella swing, and as the latter landed the earth his feet sought purchase on split and crumbled. With a cry of surprise, the wanderer tumbled backwards and joined the coyote on its downward descent.

"This is going to hurt," Ryouga mumbled, watching as the ground shot up to meet him and bracing himself for the worst.

-You've got that right.- the coyote signed to him, somehow managing to slow its own aerial descent so Ryouga caught up and fell past it by making...swimming motions? To his credit, the Lost Boy didn't even shake his head at this newest mangling of classical mechanics, accepting for the time being that wherever he was what he'd been taught in school the few times he'd found the place and through the correspondence classes his parents had insisted he take no longer applied...

Come to think of it, he'd been in a lot of places like that-


Then, a few seconds later...


-Thanks for breaking my fall.- the coyote signed with uncharacteristic cheerfulness as it dusted itself off and climbed out of the crater the Lost Boy's impact had made, for once not having taken the brunt of damage from a plunge.

"Don't...don't mention it," Ryouga groaned blearily as he rose to his feet, bruised and battered but not beaten by a long shot and once again thankful for Cologne's intensive Bakusai Tenketsu training. "It's a...it's a martial artist's duty to...help others. Now..." he spoke ominously, fists clenched tightly and eyes narrowing dangerously.

"Where is that accursed roadrunner?"

Wile E. Coyote smirked slyly as he pounded a detour sign into the rocky soil next to the highway, his latest scheme to catch his longtime prey and finally feast on the Road Runner's succulent flesh now beginning. Smile not lessening in the slightest and with an ease that most artists would envy and that could fetch him a six-figure salary at nearly any art university were he inclined to teach, he dabbed a paintbrush into a pail held in his left paw and began to paint an illustration of a paved road on the desert floor so convincing that a traveler's eyes would insist that it was actual concrete despite assertions otherwise by one's sense of touch. The coyote continued in this fashion for several minutes until he reached a cliff face. Another pail and paintbrush were waiting for him there, and he quickly grabbed both and, with the some artistic skill he'd expressed earlier, illustrated a life-like darkened tunnel on the stone surface.

Chuckling noiselessly at his own brilliance, Wile E. Coyote couldn't help feeling smug as he surveyed the result of his efforts: a painted road leading from the highway straight into the cliff wall. True, he had tried this trick before and failed, but therein laid the genius of the whole idea. The Road Runner, by now no doubt aware of his creativity and sheer intelligence, would never expect him to employ the same stratagem twice and would be completely surprised by this ploy. Besides, the Road Runner couldn't continue getting lucky indefinitely, so the odds were probably better this time around than last. Right?


"Stop running away, you cowardly bird!"

Hearing the telltale sound of his prey's approach and the human that had recently joined the chase, the brown coyote took cover behind a nearby rock outcropping and waited. Soon, he thought as he rubbed his paws together in anticipation, it would all be over.

Sure enough, both bird and boy fell for the sign's deception and took the false detour. Their speed unabated, they ran along the recently drawn road with unerring accuracy towards the painted tunnel. What happened next was completely expected.


"Why you-" THUD!

If you were anyone but Wile E. Coyote and Hibiki Ryouga.

From his observation point, the self-proclaimed super-genius carnivore watched with dismay as the Eternally Lost Boy pried himself out of the rock surface, revealing a Hibiki-shaped indentation but no Road Runner. The bird had obviously disappeared at the last millisecond again, the coyote concluded with a glum sigh as he prepared to return to the metaphorical drawing board. Perhaps something new was called for after-

"You won't escape from me that easily, Road Runner! Nobody runs away from a duel with Hibiki Ryouga and gets away with it! Bakusai Tenketsu!"

The coyote's eyes widened in surprise as the side of the cliff exploded in a hail of shrapnel with the human youth standing unfazed in the proverbial eye of the storm. His determination almost palpable, the Lost Boy raised his right hand with index finger extended and jabbed the cliff again.

"Bakusai Tenketsu!"

And again.

"Bakusai Tenketsu!"

And again.

"Bakusai Tenketsu!"

And so on, until an actual tunnel ran through the bottom of the cliff extending into darkness. The Lost Boy's shouts and the accompanying detonations quieted as he penetrated further into the bluff until neither could be heard at all. Curiosity overriding his natural caution, the furry carnivore crept closer to the newly made opening and cocked an ear upward, hoping to discern what was happening.


Hearing the cry of his long sought-after meal approaching from within the stony passageway's depths, the coyote released a muted cry of excitement and stood in front of the tunnel's entrance, ready to pounce on whatever came out.



Unless that whatever was a truck!

Now with tire tracks imprinted along his furry back, Wile E. Coyote weakly rose to his knees and looked behind him at the departing cargo truck that was merrily cruising along the path he had painted towards the highway proper. As he expected, standing at the back of the motorized vehicle was the Road Runner in all his blue and lavender glory. With a resigned and pained exhalation, the carnivore prepared himself for what was indubitably going to happen next.

The Road Runner opened its beak and stuck out its tongue...repeatedly, each ejection and taunt a stab at the coyote's pride.

A few moments later Hibiki Ryouga limped out of the tunnel looking like he'd been hit by a truck, which in all probability he had been. Almost companionably, he crouched down beside the coyote and shook his head tiredly.

"Tell me...does this happen often?"

Wile E. Coyote nodded his mangy head once, his message loud and clear despite the absence of words. The Lost Boy sighed at this, a pensive expression crossing his face as he watched the speck that was the truck with the Road Runner on it growing smaller and smaller as it faded into the distance.

"And how long have you been chasing him again?"

-I don't want to talk about it!-

After that, there really wasn't much more to say.

The sun shone down on the cross-legged form of Hibiki Ryouga as the young martial artist mediated on the summit of a narrow bluff, deep in thought as he focused on his newest adversary. His recent encounters with the blue and lavender terror replayed themselves in his mind, each one ending with the speedy avian evading his grasp at the very last second and causing him inordinate amounts of pain without ever laying a finger or, in the bird's case, talon on him. The Lost Boy's musings led to only one conclusion, and he opened his brown eyes with a grim expression on his face.

"I need a new strategy," Ryouga said at last, attaching all the importance one could to the blatantly obvious, "but what else can I do? Running by itself isn't enough, but my special techniques aren't much help here either. What good will the Iron Cloth, Bakusai Tenketsu, or ShiShiHoukoudan do against a foe that can outrun them all?"

Below the Lost Boy on the ground below, Wile E. Coyote took a crowbar and pried open the wooden crate that contained his newest order from Acme. The coyote tore through the packaging material and bubble wrap with a manic energy born from hunger and impatience until nothing stood between him and the machine that would at last bring the Road Runner within his grasp. With all the wonder and joy of a 5-year-old child at Christmas, the furry carnivore grasped his cherished acquisition with both paws and held it above his head triumphantly, letting all the world see his brand new, state of the art jetpack!

Oblivious to the drama playing out below him, Ryouga continued thinking furiously about his dilemma. "So if none of my techniques are effective here, what do I do? I suppose if I were Ranma I'd simply revise one of my techniques so it is effective here, but which one and how? I'm certainly not going to give up now when I finally have the means to defeat Ranma within my sight."

Jetpack strapped to his back, the brown coyote assumed a sprinting position at the side of the highway and waited for his avian prey, scheming eyes and wiry ears ready to alert their owner at the first signs of the Road Runner's approach. The carnivore wouldn't have to wait long.


In a blur of blue the speedy bird dashed past him, nonchalantly running dead center down the highway as was its wont. Immediately, Wile E. activated the machine on his back and in a roar of combustion and sheer, unadulterated mechanical power the jetpack whirred to life.


A gout of flame at least five feet in length projecting behind him, the coyote literally flew across the multi-lane road in pursuit of his longed for meal as the blast of fire hurtled him forward at incredible speeds. Neither flame nor desert was hotter than the carnivore's burning desire to devour his ancient adversary, though, and the coyote's grin grew wider and wider as he drew incrementally closer to the Road Runner.

Above, Ryouga brought a clenched fist down into the palm of his other hand as inspiration struck.

"Aha! If I create a variant of the Bakusai Tenketsu technique that triggers all of the nearby breaking points simultaneously instead of just one I can completely destroy the terrain the Road Runner needs to travel on and in the resulting confusion capture that bird!"

And completely missed its target.

Not being the type of abstract mental concept to give up easily, inspiration decided more bluntness was called for to penetrate the young Hibiki's thick skull and struck again...as a bolt of lightning!


"Erk," the electrocuted Lost Boy managed to mutter after a moment of silent pain, lying prone on the ground and twitching spasmodically every couple seconds. "Then again, on second thought...perhaps revising the ShiShiHoukoudan so it boosts my speed rather than pummels opponents would be smarter? Urg."

Back on the highway, the Wile E. finally caught up with the Road Runner and reached out to grab the bird by its neck...only to be foiled when the avian suddenly stopped and lowered its head!

Unable to slow down in time, the mangy coyote flew over his intended target, past the boundaries of the road, and out over the gulf of a long, deep canyon. Predictably, the jetpack ran out of fuel at precisely this moment, and the brown, bipedal carnivore hung suspended in mid-air for a few comedic seconds.

-Why am I not surprised?- the much put-upon creature signed and then, looking resigned, plummeted to the canyon floor below.


Road Runner, 3. Hibiki Ryouga and Wile E. Coyote, 0.

After two days of experimentation, trial and error, and avoiding with mixed success the fallout from the coyote's numerous schemes (Ryouga hadn't been struck by so many boulders in rapid succession since his original Bakusai Tenketsu training with Cologne), the young martial artist had at last succeeded in creating a variant of his ki blast that hurtled him forward rather than blasting its target. Really, the theory hadn't been that hard to figure out since it was merely a matter of inverting the force of the ShiShiHoukoudan so the bulk of its power was centered in the generation of the projectile rather than its release, and from there it had been a short leap of logic to increase the size of the blast while drastically decreasing its range. The adapted technique's offensive potential was rather limited so, much to the Lost Boy's chagrin, it wasn't something he'd be able to smite Ranma with the next time they met unless his pigtailed rival decided to be uncharacteristically obliging and stand still directly in front of him, but Ryouga figured it could come in handy in a tight spot if he ever needed to create some distance between him and an opponent in a hurry.


"ShiShiHoukoudan Revised! HoukouShiShitsuki – Lunge of the Roaring Lion!(1)"

It was certainly helping him keep up with his feathery avian opponent now as they both dashed down the highway, almost blurring as they put one talon and foot in front of the other and ran in the truest sense of the word. The Road Runner would periodically glance behind itself and, seeing the pursuing martial artist closing the gap between them, put on a burst of speed with its trademark exclamation, but the Lost Boy would almost immediately respond with his revised technique and keep pace. He refused to be left behind.

Unfortunately, there was one problem with his variant ki blast that Ryouga hadn't anticipated when he'd thought it up in a bout of electrified inspiration.



Namely, in order to hurl himself forward the Lost Boy needed to project the blast behind him, and since his hands were the conduit for the Lunge of the Roaring Lion this meant keeping them behind his back for the duration of the technique, thus preventing him from reaching out and grabbing the roadrunner in front of him while at the peak of his speed which had been the original objective of creating the revised technique in the first place. Ryouga's efforts to compensate were vaguely comical as he placed his hands behind his back, released the depression-fueled ki blast, reached forward as quickly as he could, was foiled as the blue bird boosted its own speed, and then repeated the entire process all over again.



Adding to the Lost Boy's frustration was the inescapable knowledge that this was an unsustainable cycle. As much as the martial artist's failure to capture the bird was bringing him to the depths of despair and consequently strengthening his ki, using the technique also took its toll and gradually depleted his energy. The moment when he'd burn himself out and collapse from sheer exhaustion was drawing nearer.



Of course, being Ryouga, the young Hibiki stubbornly refused to concede defeat and forced himself to continue in the fading hope that maybe he'd get lucky or the roadrunner would commit an error. He had never given up against Ranma and he wasn't going to give up against a mere bird either! He...just...needed...to...keep...running...until-



-Free birdseed! Help yourself!-

The Road Runner, reading the wooden sign, turned on a proverbial dime and immediately veered to the left side of the road where a tray of high quality birdseed lay. Ryouga, caught in mid-ki blast, was unable to change direction fast enough and overshot his target. Growling in outrage, he planted his two legs on the ground and skidded to a stop, heedless of the damage this caused to his footwear or the marks it left on the road.

"You have the nerve to ignore me...for free food?" the Lost Boy yelled as he turned to face his opponent who didn't even bother looking up and nonchalantly continued to eat its meal from its position several yards away. Ryouga clenched his fists in anger. "How dare you take me so lightly? This isn't a game, you foolish bird, and I won't quit till my hands are around your neck! Road Runner, prepare to die!"

Hibiki Ryouga focused all of his determination and depression into his ki, and a green, oppressive glow came into being around him as a sudden downward pressure erupted outwards. The world was a dark and lonely place...and he was so pathetic that he couldn't even catch one measly bird that couldn't even fly. When Ranma found out about this he'd be the laughingstock of Nerima, and Akane...poor Akane, she'd look at him with pity and disappointment. She was counting on him to punish Ranma, but he couldn't do a thing to help her...Akane, he was failing her...

"HOUKOUSHISHITSUKI!" he yelled, hands behind him as the Roaring Lion's Lunge burst forth and hurled him forward with greater speed than ever before. Legs simultaneously springing into action, the Lost Boy lunged and rapidly reached forward with his arms, resolved to succeed at last. The Road Runner, hearing Hibiki's deafening battle cry, glanced up from its unfinished meal and met the martial artist's dogged, single-minded gaze with its own carefree, mischievous eyes and decided that perhaps, just perhaps, leaving the remaining birdseed and running away might be in its best interests.


The large bird's legs sprang into action, accelerating the creature from zero to what could only be termed ridiculously fast in less than a millisecond. Ryouga's right hand barely missed the retreating avian's slender neck as the boy reached the birdseed pile, but as his lunge continued and his left hand shot forward he could tell that victory would soon be his. At this speed not even the Road Runner could escape from him-


Unless the free birdseed turned out to be a booby trap that detonated while he was over it!

"Beep-Beep!" the Road Runner warbled merrily as it continued running, leaving behind a smoking crater and singed Lost Boy in its wake. A moment later, the young martial artist stirred and rose to his feet, glowing now not with despair but anger!

"Coyote! I know this is your doing! Come out and take your punishment like a man!" Ryouga screamed, reaching for his red umbrella which had remained faithfully strapped to his back this entire time. The sound of hastily departing footsteps caught his attention, and the Lost Boy turned in their direction, sighting just as he expected the hurriedly retreating figure of the brown, bipedal carnivore who also hunted the bird. "Oh no, you're not getting away that easily! HoukouShiShitsuki!"

In retrospect, both boy and coyote would later admit that this anger and fear, respectively, induced chase had been good for both of them, but that time was neither here nor now.

"Coyote, prepare to die!"

An hour later, human and coyote sat on the ground a few yards apart and faced each other, the latter with a series of prominent bumps on the top of his scalp and a slight glower on his features. The youth, on the other hand, looked slightly upbeat despite his frayed clothing and was watching the brown carnivore with something akin to curiosity. "All right, coyote, you have my attention. Now, what do you want to tell me?"

In answer, the coyote held up a wooden sign. -You can't catch the Road Runner with your current methods. Continuing like you are will only cause both of us harm.-

Ryouga gritted his teeth together at this proclamation. "Don't underestimate me! I would have had the Road Runner today if you hadn't gotten in the way!" he bellowed, angry but otherwise acting as if carrying on conversations with animals was an ordinary thing to do which, in his case, it was. The young Hibiki may not have been the brightest bulb in the shed, but he knew that animals were often smarter than they let on and in his experience they were usually quite capable of understanding humans. Why, it had even gotten to the point at his house where telemarketers called specifically for his dog Checkers and tried to sell their wares to the black-and-white canine.

Unperturbed by the Lost Boy's outburst, the yellow-eyed predator held up another sign, the former disappearing into blank space behind him. -The Road Runner only stopped in the first place because of my birdseed. I could just as easily claim that I would have captured the Road Runner today if you hadn't gotten in the way.-

"Details, details," the wandering martial artist retorted dismissively but seemed to take the point as he calmed down and crossed his arms together in front of his chest. "So what would you suggest? I'm not going to quit until I've completed my training here by catching the Road Runner, and I'm betting you have no intention of quitting either."

At this, the brown coyote nodded his head adamantly and stood up. Retrieving a large sketchpad and drawing stand that had somehow been hidden behind the creature (Did the carnivore know Mousse's style of combat? Ryouga wondered), the coyote quickly drew a series of simplistic but clear drawings depicting Ryouga using the HoukouShiShitsuki in bursts and failing to catch a two-legged bird. Making sure he had the martial artist's full attention, Wile E. flipped to the next page and sketched an image of the Lost Boy using a continuous blast to keep up with the Road Runner. He gestured at the image forcefully.

Ryouga stood up and examined the drawing closely, mind processing and attempting to decipher his current companion's message. "So...what? You're saying instead of a discharge I should project a stream of ki instead?" He thought about this idea for a moment but quickly dismissed it. "That's not any better than what I'm doing right now! It would still tie my hands behind my back when I need them up front!"

Wile E. grinned, as if pleased that the human youth had figured that much out. He then turned to a third page in the sketchpad and drew another image, this one of the Lost Boy standing in profile surrounded by arrows pointing outward. To drive home his point he outlined the figure, depicting what was clearly an aura.

It took a few seconds, but the coyote's intimations were not lost on the Lost Boy. "You mean..." he said slowly, mulling the concept over carefully, "that you want me learn how to control my battle aura so I can channel ki constantly around my body in any and every direction?" His face lit up as possibilities suddenly presented themselves. "Why, if I mastered that I could control and change direction with a thought! I might even be able to fly!" An image of him hovering above Ranma and effortlessly evading MoukoTakabishas in the air while Akane looked on in wonder appeared in his mind, and the young martial artist chuckled happily at the thought.

Ryouga sobered quickly, though, as he contemplated the concept more fully. "Is that even possible?" he demanded to know, suddenly totally serious. "I can only project so many ShiShiHoukoudans before tiring, and this looks like it might simply be a shortcut to exhaustion. How the heck am I supposed to emit so much ki for such an extended period of time?"

-Trust me, it's possible.- The coyote looked smug as he held up signs replying to the Lost Boy's questions. -There's a reason coyotes are Native American spirit animals. We know things like this.-

"If you know so much about ki, then why are you using malfunctioning gadgets to try to capture the Road Runner?" the bandana-wearing martial artist asked doubtfully, scrutinizing the bipedal carnivore with suspicion.

Wile E. couldn't prevent his features from curling upwards in a cocky smirk at this latest query. -Because- he answered proudly, chest puffing up with pride, -I am a super-genius!-

Ryouga sweatdropped, and the consequent silence that suddenly filled the desert was nearly tangible and felt strangely familiar to the young martial artist. "Tell me..." the Lost Boy spoke at last, choosing his words carefully, "you wouldn't happen to know a Saotome Genma, would you?"

The coyote's yellow eyes bulged noticeably, and the creature hastily raised a new sign with the single word "NO!" written on it, slammed it over the young Hibiki's head, and then ran away. Ryouga only sighed at this latest display.

"Yeah, that's what I thought."

It took Ryouga a full week of experimentation, improvisation, and jumping off cliffs for added incentive before the mechanics of the new technique began to take shape in his head, and this was followed by another week of practice, training, and jumping off even more cliffs until he felt confident in his ki manipulation abilities. To the martial artist's surprise, he saw little and heard even less from the coyote during this time as the carnivore had slunk off to its lair and seemed to be working on its own project. What this undertaking was he did not know, but he had spotted several express delivery packages from an Acme Corporation lately and guessed whatever it was it was something huge. He just hoped that he was nowhere nearby when the coyote finished it and it likely blew up in the canine's face.

Regardless, with both Wile E. and Ryouga preoccupied with their preparations the Road Runner had spent two whole weeks without being chased, sought after for food, or targeted by explosives, boulders, and explosive boulders...and had enjoyed every second of it. However, there was something to be said about the thrill of the chase, and so it was with its usual cheerful, carefree warble that the speedy blue and lavender avian greeted the Eternally Lost Boy with in passing.


"Feh, beep-beep yourself," Ryouga retorted doggedly, calmly assuming a combat stance and throwing his arms out to his sides. "I've been busy these past two weeks, Road Runner, and this time you will not escape! Prepare yourself!" The Lost Boy grit his teeth together, closed his eyes, and concentrated and his aura quickly sprang into life around him, surrounding the martial artist in a swirling, chaotic storm of oppressive green ki. With seemingly great effort, the bandana-clad youth brought his arms down and linked his hands together in front of his chest in a classic steepled meditative arrangement. Slowly, his ki stopped raging and settled into an almost serene glow that enveloped the human. When Ryouga opened his eyes again, they blazed with harmonized power.

"Road Runner..." Hibiki Ryouga spoke in a low voice that somehow still carried across the desert to reach the now distant figure it was addressed to. "...PREPARE TO DIE!" He took one step forward, and then another, and another after that, and suddenly the Lost Boy was off like a flash, a green speck of light following and gaining on a blue and lavender lightning bolt.

Bird and boy ran, and the force of their passing literally tore the desert apart. Rocks rolled, cactuses flew, and the highway behind them shattered, and still the two continued to accelerate. They rounded corners without slowing, turned on proverbial dimes without the least difficulty, and dashed through figure eights, spirals, and vertical loops that looked like they belonged in a Sonic the Hedgehog game effortlessly.



The Road Runner suddenly veered to the left and headed for a cliff ledge, and Ryouga, feeling a sense of déjà vu, followed. If his opponent thought the same trick would work twice...well, the bird was in for a surprise. With his new technique crossing the upcoming gulf would be a cinch, and the bird would soon find that there was nothing it could do to shake him.


The edge of the cliff was utterly and near instantaneously vaporized in a column of light from below that soared up into the heights of the stratosphere, and the blue and lavender avian and Asian martial artist both came to a screeching halt mere yards from the devastated precipice. With what could only be called stupefaction, they watched as first the gray tip of what was possibly the largest futuristic double-rifle either of them had ever seen rose out of the gulf in front of them, covering the two surprised watchers in its shadow. The rifle was soon followed by the robotic arm and mechanical head of its wielder, the latter easily as wide if not wider than the cliff edge they stood on. And still the armored behemoth rose, growing taller and more imposing which each passing moment. Finally, after a few minutes that felt like an eternity, the predominantly white and blue colossus halted its ascent, its two feet that could step on the Road Runner and Lost Boy as if they were mere ants hovering above the abyss. Two huge, metallic protuberances that, oddly, almost looked like wings coated in angel's feathers projected out of the titan's back and supported the construct with the twin roar of powerful engines. Twin buster rifle at its side, the nearly 17-meter tall giant almost seemed to gaze down at its two observers with its shinobi-esque head and eyes filled with malice.


"What the-?"

Wing Gundam Zero had arrived.

While the Road Runner and Lost Boy looked on in shock, the gundanium giant reached behinds its back with its free hand and retrieved...a wooden sign larger than a double-decker bus. The machine courteously held the placard in front of it, and the avian and martial artist took a few steps back so they could read the message.

-Acme and Bandai have partnered together to bring their loyal customers (for a limited time only!) build your own gundam kits with diverse models from the entire Gundam franchise available for purchase. Now you can be a gundam pilot too!-

Wing Gundam Zero spun the sign around where the message continued.

-Behold the wonders of my genius, mail order catalogues, and good credit!-

Ryouga sweatdropped as the sign disappeared back to wherever it came from behind the recreated gundam, the message having made it obvious that this humongous mecha was being piloted by none other than Wile E. Coyote. He opened his mouth to say something, but no words came as he wondered what exactly one could say to someone who had built and was now controlling a humanoid-shaped weapon of mass destruction. The twin buster rifle that was suddenly pointed in his and the roadrunner's direction with a glowing barrel, however, quickly answered his question for him. The words that came to him next were self-evident.


"Beep-Beep!" the Road Runner concurred heartily, wasting no time in doing just that and with the Eternally Lost Boy right behind him. The two ingloriously retreated, not out of fear but rather a healthy sense of self-preservation, and as they ran their speed was such that, in blatant contradiction to the laws of physics that governed most of the known universe, rocks rolled backwards, cactuses landed, and the highway behind them reformed itself as the two retraced their earlier steps. Any observer wouldn't have been able to tell that they'd ever been there to begin with.


And then a high-powered particle beam sheared through the rocks, cactuses, and highway and completely obliterated them, truly making it so any future observer wouldn't know what if anything had been there to begin with. The roadrunner and Lost Boy turned just in time to avoid being vaporized, and the blast continued to gouge out a 4-meter wide trench until it smashed into one of the many buffs littering the desert, utterly leveling it. The bird and boy, rather wisely, continued running.

A loud, nearly deafening roar heralded the approach of Wing Gundam Zero as the giant mecha shouldered its rifle and began its pursuit, noisily tearing through the air with speed and agility that were truly wonders of Mobile Suit Gundam futuristic science. With distressing quickness, the reproduced Gundam caught up with its targets and, with its free hand, withdrew a beam saber from its left wing binder, ignited the glowing blade, and swung it down hard, carving out a deep scar that reached all but the outermost edges of the highway where the blue and lavender speedster and glowing martial artist escaped to.

Now, under calmer circumstances, Ryouga might have remembered that the coyote's main target was the roadrunner and he could probably run off to the sidelines and be safe. Or he might have realized that he'd likely be safer behind the titanic mecha rather than in front of it or that remaining within the confines of the seemingly endless highway was perhaps not the brightest idea with a 16.7 meter robot wider than the highway in close pursuit. However, an indiscriminately attacking gundam was usually not conducive to rational thought, and Ryouga's full concentration was currently taken up by the effort to stay ahead of the mechanical monster and alive, neither of which was particularly easy when the aforementioned mecha was swinging anoversized lightsaber above his head-


And firing a hail of machinegun salvos from its shoulder cannons!

"Ranma, I don't know how yet, but somehow this is all your fault!" Ryouga screamed to the heavens, adding the armor-piercing bullets he was dodging to the long list of woes he attributed to his pig-tailed rival as he and the Road Runner returned to the center of the road. If the Lost Boy hadn't been dodging death every other second he might have been pleased to note that he was keeping pace with and running parallel to the swift avian, but he obviously had other things on his mind at the moment. Namely, WHAT THE HECK COULD HE DO TO STOP THE GIANT ROBOT BEHIND HIM? He'd be lucky if his bandanas even scratched the mecha, and while this experience had convinced him to find a way to apply the Breaking Point technique to metals just as he'd discovered how to make it effective against wood he really didn't have the time to experiment right now. A regular ShiShiHoukoudan would probably be no more and maybe even less effective than someone attempting to hurt him by throwing a ping-pong ball, and although a Perfect ShiShiHoukoudan might have been able to at least shake the colossal gundam standing still long enough to release one would be suicidal.

No, he needed something incredibly devastating and large enough to actually get the mecha's attention, and he needed it immediately. He needed-

Ryouga ducked under the beam saber's horizontal arc, wincing at the massive heat the weapon generated in passing and frantically leaping several stories over its reverse follow-up swing. As he gazed down at the nearing ground, though, an idea suddenly sprang into the Lost Boy's mind...or rather, he remembered a recent idea he'd had and continued to develop even as he worked on perfecting this ki infusion ability. Even if it only caused minimal damage to the gundam, it would probably buy him enough time to escape and while he would never run away from a man-to-man battle – unlike his detestable rival – he was willing to make exceptions when it came to man vs. machine which clearly weren't fair fights and felt far too much like the strong picking on the weak for his liking.

Quickly noting all of the nearby breaking points as he fell, the Eternally Lost Boy raised his right hand, palm open, above his head and concentrated. A sphere of ki similar in appearance to a typical ShiShiHoukoudan but much smaller quickly materialized over his palm, but instead of releasing it the young Hibiki suddenly clenched it in his right hand and simultaneously opened his mouth to speak.

"Bakusai Tenketsu Tensai!(2)" Ryouga shouted as he squeezed, swiftly shattering the tiny sphere of ki into a hail of miniscule green slivers that rained down upon the highway and desert. The Road Runner instinctively sped up as the Lost Boy landed behind him a moment later, and a moment after that the ground in a ten meter radius erupted in a series of simultaneous explosions.


"Beep-Beep!" the Road Runner chirped, somehow managing to navigate through the rapidly expanding cloud of debris and shattering earth as only a high-speed animal empowered by both narrative causality and cartoon physics could. In contrast, Ryouga plummeted as the earth beneath his feet collapsed, falling into one of several growing, unstable craters of his own creation that were rapidly crumbling in upon each other. The gundam was rattled by the rain of shrapnel that slammed into it from below but otherwise unharmed, its metal casing far too strong to be damaged by mere rock. However, in the stone-filled haze its pilot lost sight of both his avian and humanoid targets. Stopping a moment to reorient itself, Wing Gundam Zero reassumed an upright position and scanned the desert with its sensors as the rocky wreckage noisily settled below. It appeared that Ryouga's flashy gambit had done little other than faze the mechanical behemoth.


Until a newly liberated geyser of water pushed through the rubble and burst forth to spray the bottom of Wing Gundam Zero's left sole! In terms of force the stream of water's effect was no greater than someone shooting a human with a mini water gun, and the original Wing Gundam Zero had been designed for combat on land, air, sea, and even outer space. However, while Acme was renowned for their sheer variety of products the reliability of said products was notorious, and in partnering with Bandai to bring the world mass produced mobile suits they'd cut a few corners. The powerful but dangerous Zero System had been toned down, for example, and instead of causing borderline insanity and possible death its worst side-effects were now limited to giving pilots bad Russian accents and the conviction that Mobile Fighter G Gundam was a literary masterpiece and the pinnacle of the long-running Gundam franchise. After all, what could possibly be better than the combination of Dragonball Z and giant robots?(3)

Another area Acme had shortchanged was their mobile suits' waterproofing, and so it was that predictably and perhaps inevitably Wile E. Coyote's latest purchase from the company malfunctioned on him, promptly short-circuiting in the foot which launched a critical chain reaction that saw the gundam's entire 16.7 meter frame convulsed with electrical discharges and malfunctions. Tendrils of smoke poured out of the twin angular blue protuberances on opposite sides of the metallic giant's head, and for a moment the gundam's face impossibly seemed to turn an anguished red. During all this time the behemoth's canine pilot emitted not a sound, but in the mangy carnivore's silence one could almost hear an incredibly pained wail as who knows how many volts of electricity ran through his body.

The futuristic titan convulsed one last time and, with a final sputter, the twin engines died out and Wing Gundam Zero toppled backward and began its short descent to the devastated ground. Ryouga, unfortunately, chose exactly that moment to blast his way to the surface and, climbing out of the shattered desert floor, noticed that he was covered in shadow and looked up just in time to see a wall of gundanium alloy approach. The Lost Boy didn't have time to dodge (how do you dodge a 16.7 meter robot?) and braced himself as best he could for what was undoubtedly going to be an incredibly painful experience.

"The world is a dark and lonely-"


An hour had passed, an hour filled with pain-induced unconsciousness and paroxysmal twitching on the coyote's part and agony and aches for the Lost Boy as he recovered from being slammed back into the ground that he had just crawled out of by the heavy frame of the short-circuited Wing Gundam Zero. And he'd thought being slugged by Lime hurt! Slowly, Ryouga stirred and, making full use of the shifting rubble and the Breaking Point technique, tunneled his way under and around the massive robot. With a beleaguered gasp, the young martial artist emerged on the outer-side of the one of the scrapped angel-like binders of the right wing, climbed to his feet, and gazed at the gundanium monolith with a cautious expression on his face, as if worried that it would suddenly spasm back to life and rise. That did not happen, but as he stood there in silence the Lost Boy did eventually hear the mechanical hiss of a cockpit hatch opening.

"COYOTE!" Hibiki Ryouga shouted angrily, swirling battle aura blazing back into existence in response to his rage as he easily leapt several stories into the air and landed on top of the gundam's chest with an ominous thud and sought out the one responsible for nearly killing him half-a-dozen times in less than five minutes. His sharp brown eyes quickly located the singed, blackened form of Wile E. Coyote several yards away who, spotting the furious Lost Boy, attempted to look innocent, formed a surprised "Who, me?" expression on his face that would have made Genma proud, and with the little strength remaining to him raised one more sign.

-This is not the coyote you're looking for.-

Ryouga's vision nearly turned red at the coyote's ridiculous efforts to evade responsibility for his actions, but as angry as the Lost Boy was he wasn't blinded by rage to the extent that he didn't note the furred predator's own severe injuries. In a voice that he found almost as annoying as Ranma's, the young Hibiki's sense of honor reminded him that it was dishonorable to fight those who couldn't defend themselves and especially those too injured to even fight back. Torn between honor and the desire for righteous vengeance, Ryouga stood still with grit teeth and an angry scowl as he struggled to come to a decision...an angry scowl that soon turned to a horrified gasp as he felt the first few raindrops of a storm and the sky above opened up with a rare but, with Ryouga's luck, perhaps inevitable desert downpour of rain.

"Bwee!" the now transformed Hibiki complained to the heavens as the black and tiny (but incredibly cute!) piglet P-chan. With a porcine sigh of disgust, P-chan squirmed out of his human clothes and trotted forward...where the previously wounded and nearly defenseless coyote suddenly looked a lot more menacing and almost as tall as the mecha had been to Ryouga's human form. The carnivore looked at his metamorphosed would-be punisher initially with surprise, but the shock soon melted into a slavering hunger. P-chan began to sweat heavily and desperately look for a place to hide as the brown coyote withdrew a white bib, knife, and fork from somewhere behind him and leapt at his new prey.

P-chan desperately lunged to the left, narrowly avoiding Wile E. Coyote's sharp cutlery, and frantically dashed for the side of the white and blue gundam. The coyote was right behind him, dining implements narrowly missing each time the carnivore jabbed them forward in an effort to impale his porcine prey. Pig and predator ran across the mobile suit's metal armor for several seconds before finally clearing the massive frame and, with a leap, setting hoofs and paws on the devastated desert floor without slowing down in the slightest. Skirting the rubble and with an undamaged section of the region's ever present highway in sight, P-chan took on a green glow as he summoned his ki and, with a panicked squeal, shot off like a green and black bullet. Not missing a beat, P-chan's pursuer also accelerated, empowered by his demanding appetite.


In mere seconds, the two left the ruins of their most recent roadrunner debacle behind and returned to the solid concrete and linear progression of the road. Seconds after that, Wing Gundam Zero and the battered battlefield were less than specks in the background, and predator and prey – driven by the primal desires of hunger and survival – reached new speeds as they hurtled down the highway, generating massive sonic booms in their wake. And then, seconds later, oblivious to everything except each other, the transformed martial artist and incorrigible coyote passed the blue and lavender blur that was the Road Runner and left the startled bird in their dust.

"Beep-Beep?" the astonished avian squawked, coming to a stop out of sheer shock of being outrun and gawking at the rapidly shrinking forms of its two main hunters as they grew ever more distant. The creature stood there for a long time, a puzzled expression on its face, before finally sighing angrily and holding up its own sign with one of its wings.

-Warner Bros. Studios will hear about this!-

Three vastly different but by now familiar figures sped down the highway, their leader a four foot, feathered bird with a dark-haired, brown-eyed youth clad in yellow and brown clothing following mere inches behind it and a brown furred, tall, and yellow-eyed coyote mere inches behind the boy. The young, glowing martial artist was no longer a novice at this chase, having endured the trials of the desert for nearly three weeks now and still as determined as ever to succeed, and as his experience had grown so had his love for the simple joy of running. At these speeds he was uncatchable and as free as the wind, and there was an effusive excitement that came with this knowledge.

As the sun shone down on the trio, it illuminated a chase in its purest form. Today there were no tricks, no deceptions, and no gadgets that would inevitably backfire in spectacular fashion. They had all gone beyond such simple contrivances, and now there was only a contest of wills and speed. Talon, foot, and paw touched and lifted off the concrete with nearly synchronized unity, creating a steady rhythm that a philosopher might claim echoed the primal heartbeat of the universe which was always in motion and always changing. Neither tiring nor slowing nor stopping, the bird, boy, and predator ran on and on and on. If there was such a thing as a Zen of running, this was surely it.

How long the three figures ran like this none of them could say, but as the chase continued and the trio dashed ever onward the persistent Lost Boy slowly gained on the speedy avian so gradually that calling it a snail's pace would have been an injustice to snails everywhere but it was incremental progress nonetheless. Ryouga felt himself draw closer and closer to the Road Runner with each step he took and the passing of each interval of time, and when he was within grabbing distance he raised his arms and reached out to clasp the bird by its neck, already predicting what would happen next.


As Ryouga expected, the Road Runner started to emit its trademark warble, a sure sign that the creature was about to speed up. How the bird could run any faster than it currently was the Lost Boy had no idea, but this time he was prepared. Continuing to close in on the slippery avian, the young martial artist redirected his mind away from the thrill of the hunt and excitement of the chase to the gloomier subjects that often featured prominently in his contemplations. He thought about his own life, how long it had been since he'd last seen his family, and how he was always lost. He considered Ranma, how his cocky pigtailed rival constantly berated and mistreated Akane, and how he always ended up losing to the infuriating Saotome heir. Most of all, he thought of Akane, how he was deceiving her, and how he was too afraid to tell her how he felt. He loved her, he loved her so much it hurt at times, and yet even after so long she still didn't know how much he cared for her and if she ever learned about his lies she'd probably hate him with the entirety of her being. With Akane, his world was a dark and lonely place but at least it was bearable and possessed the hope of becoming better, but without her...



A powerful blast of thick green ki erupted from the Lost Boy's back, slamming into a surprised and soon to be sore Wile E. Coyote and supplying the martial artist with a temporary but vital boost to his already ki-enhanced velocity. As both bird and boy accelerated, moving at speeds far too great for even a well-trained human eye to follow, Ryouga's hands continued to reach forward until they encircled the bird's slender neck but even then the Lost Boy didn't slow down, maintaining his incredible pace until he tightened his grip on the avian's collar and felt his fingers dig in to the feathers. For one brief, impossible instant it felt like time itself lost its hold on the two and the entire universe was holding its breath in anticipation of what was to happen next, but the instant ended abruptly as Ryouga planted his feet firmly on the ground and braked.

What little remained of the Lost Boy's footwear was nearly instantly consumed by the intense heat generated by the sheer amount of friction between Ryouga's feet and the concrete, and the martial artist and blue and lavender speedster left a twin trail of flames in their wake as the former forcefully decelerated the latter. It took a full sixty seconds for the duo to come to a complete stop and when they did Ryouga's feet were in so much pain it was a wonder he could still stand on them, but his hands were still steadfastly and undeniably around the Road Runner's neck and holding on tightly.

"Beep-Beep?" the Road Runner squawked inquisitively, turning its head around to look at its capturer. The two stared at each other for a long moment, the human with a stunned, disbelieving expression on his face and the bird with its usual nonchalant attitude. Then, suddenly, the Lost Boy released the Road Runner and whooped and hollered for joy at the top of his lungs, his success finally sinking in.

"Victory! I did it! I actually did it! I captured the bird and passed the Trial of the Road Runner!" Ryouga cheered, nearly crying from joy as the hard work, humiliation, and many injuries of the past three weeks finally paid off. He clapped the laid-back avian that was now looking at him as if he was crazy companionably on the back and continued to celebrate. When the brown and bruised form of the coyote finally caught up with the two, the predator was almost immediately enveloped in a bone-crushing hug from his fellow hunter.

"I finally won!" Ryouga happily announced to the coyote who was too busy trying to squirm his way out of the Lost Boy's painful iron-like embrace to share his enthusiasm. Much to the canine's relief, the martial artist released him as quickly and spontaneously as he'd grabbed him and pumped his left arm in the air and let out one last whoop of elation before finally calming down. Looking around and seeing both the roadrunner and coyote watching him as if he'd grown a second head, Ryouga sheepishly scratched the back of his head with his left hand and laughed nervously.

"Heh heh heh, well...moving on, now that I've completed my training here it's time to return to Nerima and deal decisively with Ranma once and for all. With my newfound speed and ki-infusion techniques he won't stand a chance against me!" Ryouga declared promptly, attempting to salvage what was left of his dignity and reassert his identity as a wandering martial artist seeking justice. This effort was promptly ruined, though, when he went starry-eyed again at the thought of Akane and how impressed she'd be at his anticipated victory over her fiancé. "Akane, I'll see you again soon so don't worry! I'm on my way home!"

With that, the Eternally Lost Boy walked off to the side of the highway where, coincidence of coincidences, he'd conveniently left his pack and umbrella earlier in the day and reequipped both of them. The young martial artist then bowed once to his erstwhile animal companions, thanking them for their guidance, and turned and solemnly walked away into the setting sun, disappearing into the horizon line of the desert in nearly Hollywood trademarked fashion.

-Well, that was anticlimactic.- Wile E. Coyote looked at his longtime rival the Road Runner, sighed soundlessly once, and then flipped his sign over. -Shouldn't there be some sort of gigantic explosion, parting joke, or comeuppance impending? It's not like you get caught everyday, you know.-

-You're just upset because the boy let me go.- Holding its own sign, the blue and lavender Road Runner gazed at its archetypical opponent with what might have been amusement and teasingly stuck out its tongue repeatedly before turning the sign around. -Beep-Beep!-

The speedy avian swiftly dashed past the wily coyote with enough force to spin the mangy predator around several times. The bipedal creature dropped to the ground from dizziness but promptly stood back up and, shaking his fists angrily in the air once, took off after his feathered quarry. The age-old rivalry, the bitter contest, and the supreme challenge continued once more in Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner's timeless chase.


Two humanoid figures watched the newest arrival to the devastated outdoor battlefield they stood on with equal parts amusement and curiosity. The first was a giant of a man, standing over seven feet tall with a bald head and narrow eyebrows and mustache that gave him a singularly intimidating appearance. He was shirtless and bore many scrapes and bruises from recent fighting but was otherwise unharmed and looked eager to continue combat. The second was far shorter and clad in blue and white armor with a crystal, mechanical eyepiece over his left eye and black, spiky hair pointed upward in an upside-down V-shape. Despite standing a few steps behind his taller companion, he radiated an air of unspeakable power and menace.

"Vegeta, what does the scouter say his power level is?" the taller figure asked, eyeing their next challenger with interest. He was getting a pleasant workout from this battle and looked forward to crushing even more fighters.

His partner, Vegeta, activated the scanner over his left eye and scowled as the numbers it showed shot up drastically. With each beep one could almost feel his frustration grow until finally the spiky-haired figure tore the scanner off his face and crushed it in the palm of his left hand.

"Nappa, it's over NINE-THOUSAND!"

"What? Nine-thousand? That can't be right!" Nappa shouted in shock and outrage, gazing at his opponent with newfound anger and disbelief.

Across from the two saiyan warriors, Hibiki Ryouga sighed and let his backpack drop from his shoulders to the ground as he simultaneously grabbed his customary red umbrella. He didn't know what these two were talking about or what they wanted but he'd arrived just in time to watch in horror as that green guy sacrificed his life to save a kid from these murderous fighters and knew that they were up to no good. Nerima would have to wait until these two were dealt with. Still, it would be nice to see Akane's face right now...

Nappa finally seemed to recover from his surprise and, with a furious bellow, lunged across the battlefield. Calmly watching the giant warrior approach, Hibiki Ryouga grunted once and fell into a combat stance. As the Eternally Lost Boy prepared himself for the upcoming battle of epic proportions with the fate of the world at stake, he ruefully muttered several words aloud.

"I knew I should've taken that left turn at Albuquerque."

The end.

Author's Notes:

(1) I've likely mangled the Japanese language here, and I apologize to all native speakers and those more fluent at Japanese than me. Anyway, by way of explanation, ShiShiHoukoudan roughly translates to Lion's Roar Blast or Bullet, with ShiShi equaling lion, Houkou meaning roar, and dan translating to blast/bullet. With HoukouShiShitsuki, the intended translation is Houkou as roar, ShiShi as lion, and tsuki as a lunge/thrust/jab/pass (or so Jim Breen's online dictionary claims) for Roaring Lion Lunge or Lunge of the Roaring Lion. I'm fairly certain I made a mistake here, so I hope you'll forgive my error and not hold it against the story.

(2) This is an easier one. Tensai means natural disaster, so Bakusai Tenketsu Tensai translates to Breaking Point Natural Disaster, roughly.

(3) The answer being of course the combination of Dragonball Z, giant robots, and scantily clad cat-girls, and knowing anime there is probably a series somewhere that has done this! Too bad I haven't found it yet. :)