Bone snapped on flesh as two martial artists clashed, exchanging blows and bouncing around the Tendou dojo with a manic energy not shared by the rest of the household, still shaking off the sleep in the dawn light. Ranma grinned as he slipped his head past his father's fist, sliding a foot in between his father's legs and lashing out with a vicious shoulder ram to the elder Saotome's solar plexus. The blow stunned him long enough for Ranma to sweep the older man onto his back, not releasing his grip on the man's dogi and rolling over him to send his father into the koi pond.
"Breakfast!" A light voice called from the kitchen as Kasumi walked into the dining room. A tray of lightly cooked fish and seven bowls of rice pulled the father and son from their melee into the house with all the haste their battered bodies could produce. Ranma ignored the panda thrashing it's way out of a tattered white training outfit, opting to quickly sit next to his uncute fiancée.
Quiet bickering slowly transformed into loud arguing as Ranma defended his decision to eat before a morning bath with sharp retorts. Only the desire to pause and savor the honey and lemon glaze blunted his quips and prevented the argument from escalating.
All in all, it was a rather normal morning for the Tendou household and it's permanent house guests. Akane and Ranma were verbally clashing, the pigtailed boy falling into the comforting familiarity of the routine to avoid the topic of the aborted wedding. Nabiki quietly jotted down notes in her small black notebook. Genma and Soun chatted quietly, the latter reading the small wooden signs the former used to communicate. Kasumi hummed quietly to herself, serenely occasionally refilling rice bowls between bites with practiced ease.
Only the diminutive pervert sitting on the dojo rooftop faced the day with change in mind. Happosai stared grimly at the happy family as he seethed, furious with the young pig-tailed man. The little upstart. The brat had gotten a lot more uppity after coming back from Jusendo. So what if he'd beaten up that little fire bird? That would have been child's play! He had no right to show such constant disrespect!
He'd refused Happosai's training last week. Refused it!
Happosai muttered darkly in an ancient tongue as he toyed with Bracers of Jian. A pair of Chinese silver armguards trimmed with jade, they were designed to control any creature with a simple spell. Upon the completion of the spell, the two bracers would hurl from their place on Happosai's lap to fly towards Ranma, each wrapping around one of his arms and binding the pigtailed martial artist to Happosai's will.
Then he could make the boy a proper heir, starting with teaching the young upstart a proper respect for the silky darlings all around him. Ranma had more than enough speed and skill to pilfer them from the weak girls that surrounded him; he even had the chi control to harness all of that lovely female energy almost as well as Happosai himself!
It was just criminal for the heir to the Anything Goes school not to take advantage of his skills!
Happosai's attention was only briefly divided as he noted the pigtail boy's rival landing on the shingled top of the compound's wall. The ancient lecher turned his attention back to the spell. The appearance of the boy would only serve to make capturing Ranma easier.
"Ranma! Come out here and fight me like a man!" Ryouga called, tossing his pack inside as he cracked his fists. Ranma immediately got up from his position at the table, striding out from the dining room to stand on the edge of the porch, casually taking another mouthful of rice as his eyes measured his foe. The fanged brawler didn't appear any different, though painful experience had taught the blue-eyed youth that appearances meant little.
"You're sounding pretty confident, P-chan," Ranma noted with a grin, setting down the bowl on the edge of the porch as he stepped off the porch. He cocked his head to the side. "Let me guess, did you pick up a new technique while you were trying to find the bathroom?"
"Shut up, Ranma! I don't need a new technique to deal with you!" With a wordless battle cry, the Lost Boy launched himself from the wall and leveled a devastating kick at his foe, already slipping around the attack and positioning himself to counter. He danced over Ranma's retaliatory sweep, throwing a punch which Ranma barely managed to intercept with his left hand.
Ranma bounced back, once again evaluating his foe. That punch had been far quicker than anything he'd ever seen from the brown-eyed boy. It actually approached the speed he'd gained when he'd first trained to use the Amaguriken. Sure, pork-butt had been able to keep up with Ranma, but speed had always been his edge.
"Your speed's gotten a lot better, pork breath," Ranma noted, wincing as he tried not to rub the palm of his left hand with his right. Not only was Ryouga fast, he'd retained all of his freakish strength, too. The combination didn't seem fair to the long-haired youth. "Let me guess, you happened to have a bag of chestnuts with you one day when you were camping in the Arctic."
"I figured if an idiot like you could benefit from the technique, I could too!" Ryouga spat as he confidently advanced on his rival. Ranma decided to take the fight to his foe, throwing himself into a forward roll which allowed him to vault skyward over the Lost Boy. Briefly confused by the sudden change in his foe's altitude, Ranma planted his feet on the young man's face as he paused, climbing higher into the air as he knocked his rival off-balance.
"Moko Takabisha!" With a grin, Ranma used his own chi to simultaneously blast Ryouga and gain enough altitude to reach the top of the house, where he casually turned to watch the stocky young man furrow a trench in the ground. Ryouga struck the solid wall of the dojo before he shook the dirt from his clothes and leaped up after Ranma.
Happosai completed his spell just as Ryouga got into grappling range with his pigtailed opponent. Speed he'd previously lacked combined with his foe's unadjusted perception of his fighting style allowed him grab a fistful of red shirt before the blue-eyed boy could maintain his distance. Ranma gripped the bandanna-clad boy's arm, cocking back an arm aimed squarely for the bandana-clad boy's jaw as he flinched. The Anything Goes fighter knew who would win a blow-for-blow slugging match.
The two bracers rose from the pervert's lap with the sound of a deep gong, speeding directly towards Ranma's wrists in a blur of flashing silver and green. One bracer struck true, wrapping itself snugly around Ranma's cocked-back right forearm with the abrupt speed of a boa constrictor. The other flew towards Ranma's left arm but found itself intercepted by Ryouga's right. The bracer writhed with fury as if the offending limb had chosen to block the spell, then suddenly wrapped itself around the fanged boy's forearm as if fed up with trying to bypass the obstacle.
Both boys became as still as a photo, staring blankly at the new decorations on their arms. After a moment of confused silence, they became aware of the close contact they shared and broke apart with a mutually violent thrash. Ryouga's feet scattered roofing tiles as he fought momentum's determination to pitch him onto his back, finally sliding to a stop a short distance away. Ranma opted to allow momentum to do his work, briefly planting his hands and flexing his abdominal muscles to handspring to his feet.
The two boys kept their attention focused on one another, cautious habit overriding idle curiosity. The bracers hadn't hurt and didn't seem to have any effect, making them a distant second on the list of their priorities. The wary silence stretched as they slowly reigned in their animosity.
"What the hell is this, Ranma?" Ryouga finally growled, roiling eyes flickering only briefly to take in the armour on his arm before snapping back to his enemy, as if the split second of inattention had given the arrogant youth the chance to attack.
Which could have been true, given their mastery of hand-to-hand combat. Few martial artists in the world could have acknowledged the twitch of the teen's eyes as an opportunity. Of those few capable of seeing it as such, only a very small fraction possessed the speed and skill to take advantage of the opening. Both boys were well aware that the minuscule disparity in their prowess had seen their fights ended by such a lapse.
"Like I know anything about what goes on around here before it bites me in the ass..." Ranma grumbled, finally dropping his guard as he turned his attention to the strange bracer binding his arm. Pulling at the metal in an attempt to remove it, his apprehension grew by the second as the resolute object refused to be dislodged. While he could slide the thing up or down the length of his arm a bit, an invisible force prevented it from moving beyond. Ranma twisted, falling on his back and placing his feet on the upturned edge near his elbow as he tried to force it off. Though he felt no counterforce on his hand, the thing simply wouldn't move.
Likewise, Ryouga found with a perplexed rage that the metal would only lift half an inch or so from his skin before totally resisting all attempts to rise further. He strained his powerful arms, wrenching the bracer this way and that in an attempt to simply tear it off of his arm. Force that would have torn steel like diaphanous silk proved useless against the stubborn protective gear.
He paused in his struggles, reaching for his inner harmony as he forced himself to abandon his rage. The receding heat brought clarity to his thought. He became one with the world, intimately aware of the hidden flaws in the same way he knew his own weaknesses. His eyes snapped open, thousands of pinpricks of light overlaying his vision.
Here, the spot in which the slightest pressure would shatter the rocks surrounding the koi pond and rain pebbles on the grass. There, a web of light which showed where he could turn the ground into a series of deep craters, the lightest flick of his finger displacing hundreds of pounds of dirt. Even Ranma's clothes shone with lights which would disintegrate them where they lay on Ranma's body. The fanged boy filed the idea in the back of his mind for another time.
His eyes fell to the device on his right arm. Nothing. Every inch was flawless, granting the thing immunity to the Bakusai Tenketsu's potent effect. The one wrapped around Ranma's right arm likewise showed no pinpricks of light which would render it defenseless. The technique wasn't a way to remove the bonds.
"Oh, stop struggling, boy!" Happosai called, voice tinged with glee matched only by the deep creases in his face. He landed beside the pair and paused to examine the heir to his school, ignoring the slowly growing anger in the pair's every twitch. His plans hadn't quite worked out, but the impudent whelp had been caught by one of the Bracers, at least. He even had a second pawn to control. Endless possibilities overwhelmed him and he randomly plucked one to confirm the magic worked. "Do me a favor and go steal Kasumi's panties for me, would you?"
For a horrible moment, both Ranma and Ryouga were gripped with an irresistible need to do precisely that. Both boys felt their traitorous legs move a step towards the edge of the roof when they mastered the unnatural urge, fighting off the magically induced control through a torrent of righteous anger. They stopped as one, the heel of their other foot barely rising from the roof before they turned to glare at the source of the order.
While neither boy could be described as overly intelligent, both could figure out the source of the bracers if they were actually compelled to listen to the old pervert standing next to them. A rage which had nothing to do with one another finally overwhelmed their self control.
This bastard had nearly caused them to commit the unforgivable act of laying hands on the gentle soul who had always spoken almost nothing but gentle words. This freak had tried to steal their free will through otherworldly magic. Finally, in the most evil of crimes, the irredeemable scum had instilled a desire which could have resulted in them being barred from Kasumi's cooking.
Nothing but violence would satisfy their wrath.
In a bizarre display of synchronized martial arts mayhem, both boys lashed out with their feet, mirror images stomping the ancient lecher into the ground and grinding his face into the tiles until the old man was gagging on chunks of clay. Ryouga bent down before the ancient master could recover, holding him at arm's length with one hand, steely fingers wrapped around weathered neck. Ranma grinned at Ryouga in a rare display of camaraderie.
"You can do the honors, Ryouga," Ranma said, accepting the stunned old man and holding him lightly by the scruff of his shirt. Ryouga bent low, left leg balancing while his right leg swept back, then lashed back towards the stunned old man. The kick struck with a thud which echoed across the skyline, sending the old pervert up to kiss the clouds before he disappeared into the distance.
Ranma raised his forearm, rattling the chains. "Now we've gotta figure out what the heck these things are."
Without a further word, the pigtailed young man then jumped off the roof, intent on the Cat Café. Halfway through Ranma's first leap, the Lost Boy was tugged sharply from his position by the bracer on his right arm. He stumbled for two paces before getting his foot down, planting himself firmly and refusing to allow the invisible pull to move him another inch.
At the same time Ranma's arm was caught in an unseen fist, right limb snapping out behind him then stubbornly halting his lateral momentum, his body swinging parallel to the ground before gravity reasserted her inexorable claim, pulling the wide-eyed fighter to the ground. A grunt and a loud thud punctuated the abrupt end which left the dazed young man staring up at the sky.
"Damn it, what the hell was that?" Ryouga demanded, leaping to the ground next to his sprawled rival, kneeling to grab the pigtailed boy by his braided mane and haul him to his feet. He gestured wildly, trying to indicate that invisible push in vain before giving up in frustration. Brown eyes bored stonily into slightly-concussed blue. "Why was I yanked all of a sudden!?"
"You're pretty thick if you think I've got anything more about this than you!" Ranma retorted, slapping Ryouga's wrist and breaking the grip on his shirt. With a disgruntled huff he tugged the wrinkles out of the red silk, examining the armguard girding his forearm only after the indignity to his clothes had been reversed. He didn't blink as he shook the thing, thinking. Clearly whatever had happened had something to do with the bracers. He gestured to his left. "Okay, you stay here. I'm going to walk over that way."
As Ranma walked he noted a slight resistance, but it was nothing he would have noticed unless he was focusing on his right arm. When he got thirty feet away from Ryouga, the resistance increased to the point where the only way he could continue was by dragging his unintentional partner along with him, straining against the air as if he were actually shoving Ryouga from behind. He stopped, holding his arm out and leaning slightly, rotating the limb this way and that as he tried to feel for any weakness or difference. Thirty feet behind, Ryouga's arm mimicked the moves in a rough, jerky manner.
It then occurred to the yellow-clad boy that if Ranma could force his arm to move, the reverse was also true. He firmly planted his feet and leaned back just a bit, Ranma unconsciously leaning forward to compensate. Tension hummed in the pull of the magic joining them. Ryouga grinned, then yanked his arm back with all of his impressive strength. His arm quickly snapped back.
Thirty feet away, Ranma punch himself in the face with strength he knew he could never muster himself, stars flashing in his eyes as he wondered what the hell had happened. The chuckling of the fanged boy behind him told him all he needed to know.
"What'd you do that for!?" Ranma demanded, spinning in place to toss a glare across the distance, getting only an evil grin in response. The pigtailed boy scowled, frustration prodding him to hurl himself at the cause of his throbbing nose, getting in a good kick which tossed the unprepared Lost Boy in the air.
"What are you two fighting about now?" Akane spat from the porch, her presence completely unnoticed to the duo until that moment.
Time seemed to slow for Ryouga as he realized he was headed for the koi pond, as Akane's eyes tracing his graceless arc through the air. Ranma seemed to realize the problem as well as Ryouga's body briefly rose up, showing the pool of water which lay beyond. He tried to race forward to help, but knew he was moving too slowly.
Ryouga tried to twist out of the way, to redirect his flight, but he lacked the mastery of mid-air combat which was the Saotome specialty. He landed in the water as time froze, shutting his eyes and cringing as he prepared for death in the form of a mallet. Ryouga dreaded the coming fury more than he'd ever feared Saffron or Lime.
He waited, holding his breath. Death never came.
"Honestly Ranma, now Ryouga's wet! It's a good thing he doesn't have a Jusenkyou curse!" Akane declared, shooting her fiancé a dirty look.
"I don't have a Jusenkyou curse?" Ryouga muttered to himself, finally daring to spread his eyelids, watching Akane spin and walk away as a soul cleansing wave of relief washed away the last traces of mortal terror, quickly igniting a fierce joy in his heart. He grinned to himself, reveling in the alien sensation of cold water soaking his human body as he jumped to his feet, throwing his arms wide. "I don't have a Jusenkyou curse!"
"We're cured!?" Ranma exclaimed, running and jumping into the koi pond, ignoring the dirty look the fish gave their unwelcome, oft-visiting house guest. These days he almost always remembered to scoop any of the residents back into their home before their flops and gasps turned feeble. Ranma likewise reveled in the sensation of cold water, as it washed over him completely, running down in rivulets over the curve of her breasts. Ranma glared down at her bustline, as if the hate in the look could squish the soft mounds flat. "Ah, man! Why only pork breath!?"
"Shut up, Ranma!" Ryouga yelled, slugging the diminutive red-head out of the pond before stepping out himself. He grinned as he peered down at his cold, human body. No more random transformations. No more being a potential meal ticket for hungry animals or people. No more defenseless piglet haunting the clouds and puddles and myriad other sources of cold liquids! He stood in frank disbelief, wondering why fortune finally smiled his way.
"Alright, let's go see the old ghoul," Ranma finally grumbled, having retrieved the brass tea kettle Kasumi always kept warm from the it's place in the kitchen. She poured the heated water over her head, smiling as she felt the change return her to her male form and regained the ability to look her rival levelly in the eyes.
No doubt the old woman would be able to help out with the problem.
Cologne only spent a few minutes humming and muttering soft Mandarin to herself after Ranma and Ryouga arrived at her restaurant, her eyes suddenly doubling in size before she pogo-bounced up the stairs clasping the head of her cane. She returned with an open book, which she dropped on an unoccupied table with a thud as she faced the blue-eyed youth.
"Son-in-law, it would appear you are indeed in some trouble this time," Cologne concluded, warily glancing at the bracers on Ranma and Ryouga's arms. She tapped Ranma's armguard with the narrow point of her staff, as if touching the magical artifact with her bare hands would soil her. "Those two bracers are meant to work in tandem against one foe, putting the victim totally under the spell caster's control."
"I noticed that we started to do something Happosai wanted us to do after the chains wrapped around our arms," Ryouga noted, subdued. So far, Cologne had only confirmed their suspicions, not granted them any new information. Ryouga gestured to the chain on his right arm. "I've got a question, Granny. How come when Ranma gets splashed he changes, but I get to stay as a human?"
"A good question, but simply answered," She gestured to Ranma and flung a glass of cold water in the boy's face, examining him as he lost about six inches of his height and gained significant mass on her chest, her black hair shimmering into a familiar vibrant red. Ranma sputtered as she glared at the old woman. "As you can see, Son-in-law here doesn't change his basic form, just the finer points associated with his gender. The spell on these devices probably allows it because he still has the arm in that form. With you..."
"He's got no arms, so it wouldn't have anywhere to go," Ranma finished, examining her own cuffed forearm. She shrugged, dropping her right arm. "So what do we gotta do to get these damned things off?"
"Again, it should be simple. Just get the one who cast the spell to use the appropriate counter-spell on the armguards and they should drop right off you. Though where could that old fool have acquired Bracers of Jian at all?" Cologne's gaze was curious as she examined the metal and jade linking the two foes together. "I was given to understand they hadn't been seen in this world for over two hundred years."
"Probably stole it from somewhere!" Ranma spat, glaring out the door. She shrugged, noting Cologne was nodding. "It's not really a surprise. He seem to steal a lot of magical junk."
"So, all we have to do is get Happosai to use the counter-spell and it will free us?" Ryouga asked, cracking his knuckles eagerly as he considered the thought. Pounding on the old bastard was going to be almost as fun as pounding on Ranma. "We should be able to beat it out of him no problem."
"Well, I wish you boys luck," Cologne finished, giving their arms one last look before beginning to pogo over to the kitchen. She paused on her second bounce, looking back over her shoulder to take in both boys with a measured look. "Keep in mind that if you don't get the counter-spell off Happosai, you two may very well be stuck that way."
"Stuck with bacon breath forever?" Ranma muttered, glaring at his rival with a scowl. She scratched her chin, considering. "I've been stuck with him for an hour and I'm annoyed."
"Like you're any better, Ranma!" Ryouga countered, poking a finger into the pigtailed girl's face. He then smirked. "The only bright side to this is I get to make sure you can't take advantage of poor Akane's trust!"
"Shut up, P-chan!" Ranma growled. She moved as if to strike her rival before stopping, almost shuddering as she mastered the urge to start another fight. Finally she grinned. "Look, we're stuck like this and neither of us especially like it. Either we work together, or we get to stay together forever. I'll kick your ass when these things are off!"
Ranma extended her unbound hand.
"Fine, Ranma," Ryouga admitted, taking Ranma's hand with his own free hand and squeezing. Hard. Ranma and Ryouga stayed locked that way for a moment, neither giving ground as they crushed the air between their fists. Ranma mastered the urge to wince as the grip continued until finally the clasp ended. Ryouga smirked. "Though I'm going to be the one to win when these chains are off!"
"Come on!" Ranma said, leading Ryouga out of the restaurant after getting a splash of hot water from the kitchen. They both jumped up to the rooftops, eyes scanning for the signs of Happosai's daily rampage among Nerima's young women.
They both had a pervert to beat.
"Sweeto!" Happosai's battle cry gave the girls only moments of notice before he was among them, quick, agile hands copping feels and removing the smothering garments the young ladies were forced to wear. His bag quickly grew in size as he rampaged through the girls on their gym period, grinning as he stood on the wall of the school.
Life was good. While his plans this morning had gone more than slightly awry, it was a temporary setback at best. He had plenty more tricks up his sleeve to make Genma's upstart son more pliable as a student, so it was only a matter of time before the skills he possessed would be passed on to the newest generation.
"Now, where did you get the Bracers of Jian?" Cologne's voice asked from his left, and Happosai turned to face the woman who'd haunted him since he'd been a wet-nosed young punk. He grinned.
"Just something I happened to have laying around," Happosai dismissed, waving his hand. He hopped away from the wall, consequently avoiding the hail of improvised weapons thrown by Furinkan's female gym class.
"Well, it's certainly caused quite the problem," Cologne admitted as she shadowed his leap, alighted on a nearby roof next to him. Her eyes narrowed as she glared at the man responsible for most of the trouble in her life. "Those two young boys are quite irritated with you. A side effect of your little spell is that they're forced to stay together by the magic in the bracers. Were you aware of that?"
"I'm not sure I care," Happosai shrugged, lighting his pipe as he reclined on his newest bag of treasures. He gestured to Cologne with a dark smile. "The upstart whelp isn't strong enough to take me on yet."
"You sound so certain of that," Cologne mused, gesturing down a road to where Ranma and Ryouga were bounding towards them. Even at this distance, Cologne could make out the grim determination on both boys' faces as they closed with their target. "Well, you're going to find out shortly, Happi."
The old pervert glared in their direction, taking another drag of tobacco from his pipe. So, he'd have to deal with both of them. That wasn't going to be a problem.
"Ryouga, I'll go high! You take him from below!" Ranma bellowed as he and Ryouga raced along the street next to the canal, already forming a plan which would allow them to quickly and efficiently take down Happosai. The Lost Boy grimaced at taking orders from his rival but saw nothing wrong with the plan. He charged forward with even more speed. Ranma thrust his feet below him, aiming for the rooftops so he could get the height he needed to attack the old lecher from above.
Several things happened as he jumped:
Ryouga scarcely felt the tug as Ranma reached the apex of what the bracer around his right arm would allow, cutting short any possibility of gaining the rooftop, let alone attacking Happosai from above. As Ranma realized this, Ryouga's increased speed jerked Ranma forward as they again reached the distance limit, causing Ranma to tumble along the ground past a startled Ryouga. His forward momentum was cut brutally short as he plowed noisily into a dumpster.
Ryouga continued running in a daze, trying to process the events which had just occurred. His own speed was cut down to a lurching stop a few steps later as he reached his limit away from a groaning Ranma, who was once again slammed into the dumpster with bone-jarring force. Ryouga found himself stunned and lying on the ground trying to figure out what had just happened, still confused about how Ranma had been bouncing along the ground ahead of him.
"Impressive boys, impressive. I'm just wondering... What did that dumpster ever do to you?" Happosai pointed at the damaged trash receptacle, which now showcased an impressive pair of dents suspiciously formed like the pigtailed-boy's face.
"Shut up, you old goat," Ranma growled, stumbling to his feet and shaking off the impressive blows he'd just been dealt. He pointed at the ancient pervert. "Just get rid of these damned guantlets already!"
"Go jump in the canal!" Happosai retorted, grinning to himself as he saw Ranma take two steps to do just that before stopping, instead intensifying his glare towards the Grand Master of his school. Happosai tapped the ashes out of his pipe, his gaze darting from Ranma to Ryouga and back. "Do you two youngsters really think you can handle me?"
"Die, old man!" Ryouga responded, charging at Happosai with his umbrella. Ranma, prepared for his partner's reckless charge, managed to avoid slamming into the dumpster for a third time by flipping over it and moving to provide back-up.
Happosai dodged a thrust of Ryouga's umbrella, only to be forced to jump and twist out of the way of Ranma's follow up flying leap. Ryouga's follow up roundhouse tagged the diminutive lecher, and he was finally hit solidly by hundreds of punches at Amaguriken speeds as Ranma regained his footing. Stunned, Happosai lashed out with his pipe, sending Ranma skittering across the pavement. Ryouga's follow up punch was spoiled as Ranma's distance increased to their limit, pulling him at the same speed.
Ranma, then Ryouga crashed into the fence separating the street from the canal, twisting the fencing and causing it to dip out over the water.
"Damn it, Ranma! I nearly had him until you got hit!" Ryouga sneered, pulling himself upright thanks to a broken piece of the fence jutting out in front of him. Ranma merely scowled as he pulled his trapped foot out of where it had punched through the linked chain of the fence.
"Look bacon bits, we can't afford to get in each other's way here," Ranma said, brushing the dust off of his clothes. "The old perv's too good for us to screw up."
"Then stop screwing up, Ranma!" Ryouga yelled, once again charging Happosai. Ranma groaned and ran, keeping pace with the bandanna-clad boy as they once again raced towards their foe. Ranma stopped short of their target, letting loose a point blank Moko Takabisha which blazed right by Ryouga's head to strike Happosai squarely in the face.
Stunned, his eyes came into focus to find Ryouga driving in a right cross which promised to hurt if it connected.
"Stop!" Happosai pleaded, grinning as Ryouga's fist instantly halted in mid-strike. Too busy gloating, Happosai was unable to see Ranma's descending foot until it had already snapped across his forehead, sending him tumbling back into a property wall.
"Ryouga, even if he tries to control us with these stupid things, his commands don't work if we can't do anything about 'em! Use your bandannas!" Ranma launched himself into a small leap, shattering the wall Happosai had been slumped against as the old man rolled underneath his heir.
Ryouga nodded to himself, filling the air with whirling black and yellow cloth which forced the old pervert to dance wildly. Ranma recovered from his missed strike, launching some chi blasts of his own towards Happosai, creating a crossfire the old master was hard pressed to escape, let alone avoid. Cries to stop went largely unheeded, the projectiles already in the air by the time his cries reached the boys' ears.
One of Ryouga's razor-like bandannas finally cut through Happosai's twisting defense, causing the old master to twist into one of Ranma's chi blasts, rocketing the old man towards the Lost Boy. The fanged boy grinned as he drove his umbrella directly into Happosai's body, almost feeling pity at the crunch the move caused as he drove his foe towards Ranma. Ranma slammed the old man into the ground, allowing Ryouga to follow up with another strike which pushed the old man further into the ground.
"Alright old man, talk!" Ranma growled, as Ryouga twisted the umbrella a bit, grinding the old man against the crushed pavement. He flailed, cried, and pleaded for the boys to let him up before realizing that the force keeping him pinned to the ground was not Ryouga's easily-influenced strength, but instead that ludicrously heavy umbrella and his own lack of leverage.
"Fine, boys... You got me, this time. Those two are the Bracers of Jian," Happosai admitted, gesturing to the chain on Ranma's right arm. "They're the magic of a Chinese Goddess of Love herself, and quite hard to break. They usually give the caster of the binding spell total control over the subject, but that appears to have failed."
"We don't care about that! Just tell us how to get these damned things off!" Ryouga yelled, kicking the old man for good measure. He'd been attached to Ranma for nearly an hour and already it was getting tiresome.
"I don't know how," Happosai said, wincing as Ranma and Ryouga's eyes both darkened. He raised a finger to his chin, scratching as he narrowed his eyes in thought. "In fact, you two might just be stuck that way unless you can find another way of getting them off!"
"WHAT!?" Both boys screamed simultaneously, staring down at the diminutive pervert with incredulity. While Ryouga contented himself to growling and pressing the old man into the ground with his umbrella, Ranma searched for his voice, eventually finding it.
"No way! How the hell did you plan to get them off of me, then!?" Ranma demanded, leaning down and grabbing the front of the old man's shirt.
"I should be able to just tell them to come off," Happosai admitted, then shrugged. "Unfortunately, it takes a minute or two for the clasps to loosen and the commands I've been giving you last for the less than a second. Here, I'll even show you! Take off your bracers, boys!"
To the boys' growing horror, they discovered he was right. At his words, the clasps holding the bracers on their arms twitched open for a moment before settling back down into place. Ranma ignored Happosai at that point, grasping the clasp and tugging it, trying to take the armguard off but finding them just as irremovable as before.
"Then what do we need you for?" Ryouga growled, removing his umbrella as he considered the idea of spending the rest of his life bound to Ranma. His mood sunk as he considered the idea of having to deal with Ranma's various fiancées. It hit rock bottom and began to dig as he thought about having to watch Ranma and Akane together for the rest of his life. He pointed one hand at Happosai. "Shi Shi Hokodan!"
The pervert was blasted directly into the ground, unconscious.
"Come on, Ryouga. Let's go talk to the old ghoul again," Ranma finally sighed with grim determination as he scowled down at the limp pervert. "She might know something else we can try."
Author's Notes (kinda long):
Alright, this story originally began as "A Duet of Fists". Same premise: Ranma and Ryouga magically handcuffed together and then sent off, just the two of them, to go figure out a way to sort the mess out while I get to write awesome fight scenes. Then I threw away the great, actiony beginning and just sank into a plodding, paceless pool of crap. Go ahead and give it a read for a tutorial on how NOT to pace your story and how NOT to introduce likeable original characters.
Anyway, the story then sat for two years while I tried, and failed, to come up with something to use with the awesome idea of Ranma and Ryouga essentially handcuffed together. I even had some interdimensional travel thing which could have been used as a vehicle for a lot of crossovers had I not pissed everything away with poor pacing and a terrible plot.
Maz goes in original fiction, now. He only gets introduced to the Ranma cast if I ever get famous, produce a work with him, then secretly write crossover fanfiction with my own work. Which would be like, recursive geekiness or something. Either way, he's not going to be anywhere near this story.
The reason it's a Black Lagoon crossover is because I was reading a review Eromancer wrote saying that, basically, he would worship me forever if I wrote a Black Lagoon fic. Being an asshole, I PMed him to taunt him with a few ideas of what I could do with a Black Lagoon crossover before stating that, sadly, I wouldn't be able to do one for at least a few months. By sheer happenstance, I happened to have my file for A Duet of Fists open.
I then said to myself, "Ranma and Ryouga running around in Roanapur? That'd be awesome!" After a moment I then said, "I could have done that with THIS story if it didn't suck! It would have been great!" That was followed by "Wait, I can just make this story NOT suck! I'm awesome!" I concluded it with, "I love proving myself wrong to people, so get yourself open, OpenOffice!"
Thank Eromancer for this. Or, if you liked A Duet of Fists and are pissed it's never going to be continued as it was, blame him. Either way, the boys'll be in Roanapur and mixing it up with the Black Lagoon cast by the end of the next chapter, which should be up within a day or two at the most.