Unfettered Resolve: Chapter 1
Ryouga read the letter.
He sat down on the chair in his and Ranma's Roanapur apartment, rubbing his jaw. He sat still for a very, very long time and tried to process the contents of the letter, but nothing about it made sense to him. It had been a month since he'd fled Japan, but he'd convinced Akari to see him in the time between then and now, flying out to meet her in Hong Kong for a weekend while Ranma used the Umisenken to the best of his abilities to trick the girl into thinking she and Ryouga were all alone for three full days.
They hadn't done anything, of course, but it was three of the best days of Ryouga's life. Fine food, fine clothes, and barely any akward pauses at all.
Now this. He dropped the letter, walking over to where Ranma was playing a video game on their TV, the pigtailed boy hammering combos on the Playstation controller while perfecting his mastery of Street Fighter Alpha 3. The Saotome heir was completely unprepared for Ryouga to punch him in the back of his head, through Ryouga's bedroom, leaving him hanging in the air over the street outside their apartment as the Bracelet of Jian arrested his momentum. Ryouga viciously hauled back on his own arm and wheeled his rival back in time for another punch which his foe barely had time to deflect.
That Ranma was fighting back robbed Ryouga of something. He didn't even bother to block or dodge as Ranma's retaliatory strike caught him in the chin, bouncing him off the concrete ceiling and leaving the Lost Boy sprawled on his back, blood running down his chin.
"What the hell, man!?" Ranma finally found his voice, rubbing the back of his head and surveying the damage now that he wasn't in imminent danger: The TV had been destroyed in the wake of Ryouga's assault, and much of his aggressor's bedroom and personal effects were likewise a write off, the wardrobe having been torn into shreds as Ryouga's fine clothes had followed Ranma into the street.
Even Ryouga's bed was shattered, the boxspring clearly damaged and broken on the floor, the mattress just barely caught in the jagged carpentry of the building's outer wall, impaled by timber in several places.
On the bright side, Ranma could hear the spinning of the disc in his Playstation, and the power indicator was still showing light. The TV was dead, but his game file still lived on.
"Sorry, Ranma..." Ryouga finally groaned, rubbing the blood on his jaw with the back of his wrist. "I just... I finally read the letter Akari sent me after our weekend in Hong Kong. She had the best time of her life, that weekend. Even before, I knew she was the one... but after that? I could have told you exactly how our wedding would go."
"Ryouga, man..." Ranma replied, dread punching him in the stomach worse than the back-of-the-head blow had felt.
"Just read the letter, Ranma. I'm going to go sit outside for a while," Ryouga explained, slowly climbing to his feet. He made a point of grabbing four tallcans of Heireken before allowing the fridge to shut, then ambled out the screen door to their balcony. Ranma heard him quietly settle into the plastic-strapped chairs, the hiss of a beer being popped echoing in the unnatural silence following their brief fight.
Ranma read the letter, before sighing and allowing it to drop to the ground. He walked over to their phone and dialed a number, waiting for the answer.
"Hello?" Eda's voice demanded cheerfully.
"Eda. It's Ranma," the pigtailed boy explained, frowning into the mouthpiece. "I'm giving you a freebie here. Give me something that needs to be destroyed today. I don't really care who runs it or what they do... You know the only people who me and Ryouga would care about pissing off. I just need to know that you don't want one brick one top of another when we're done. What'cha got for me?"
"Oh?' Eda finally asked after a moment of silence, her voice hinting at her amusement. "For what reason would the most destructive freelancers in Roanapur offer me service for free? As much as I'd like you to hold certain things against me, I don't want to owe you a debt."
Ranma paused, debating the merits of telling the woman the truth, before coming to a conclusion: It was Eda. He could trust her with his life, pretty much without reservation. Finally, he spoke.
"Akari just ended it with Ryouga," the pigtailed boy noted, wincing as he heard the sound a second beer being opened from the balcony. His rival had to be power-drinking to be on his second already. "When bad things happen to Ryouga, he gets depressed or angry. Giving him something to be angry about would be way better than letting him be depressed, because in about an hour he won't give a shit what he destroys, just that he destroys something. I'd rather whatever it is deserve it."
"...Fine. Wait a couple minutes, I need to grab a file I just got," Eda said, her voice unusually serious. Ranma paused, leaving against the wall of their living room as he listened to the dead silence of the phone. After a minute or two, he began to tap his feet and frown at the phone as the distinct sound of Ryouga's third beer in the last ten minutes being opened echoed from the balcony on which the Lost Boy sat.
Finally, Eda returned.
"I have a feeling you'd have gone after these guys for free anyway," the blond nun admitted, the sound of flipping pages clear in the background. "While they've been dabbling in prostitution and the usual crap which comes with it, lately they've been marketing towards a more... discerning clientele. One which supplies especially fresh goods, if you catch my drift. They're planning to open their services in a few days."
"I get you," Ranma grimaced, frowning into the phone. "For the record, any future crap like that you've got is also free of charge. Me and Ryouga'd never sleep or have money to eat if we tried to take out all the scumbags in this city, but there's a few things we'll happily make an exception for."
"You do spoil me," Eda purred, and Ranma groaned. "They're currently renovating the old supermarket on Pracha Market Road, just east of Sumboom Kun. It's a big red two level building. I don't think they've taken down the smiling face mascot yet, but that should still be enough for you to figure out where you need to go."
"We can just mow through without pissing off anyone who matters?" The pigtailed boy demanded, frowning a bit.
"Well, you won't piss off Hotel Moscow or Chang and his boys. Given that I'm giving you the information, you can be assured that I disapprove of what they're doing," the blond nun commented lightly.
"Well I doubt Dutch or Revy would be into that sort of crap, so..." Ranma sighed, before smiling. "Thanks, Eda. The mood Ryouga's in I really didn't want to distract him by picking a fight. Letting someone else take the pain is a lot better."
"You can make it up to me later," Eda noted, hanging up.
"Great," Ranma sighed, before frowning. "Wait, I'm giving her a freebie already. Why would I... Augh! Doesn't matter!"
He strode to the balcony door, sliding it open. Ryouga glanced up from his beer, frowning.
"Ryouga, you got two options," Ranma said, helping himself to the only unopened beer at his friend's feet and popping the top one-handed before taking a sip. "One, you can sit here and feel sorry for yourself while you deplete our Heireken supply."
"Two?" The Lost Boy prompted.
"You look like you're in a bad mood, so I called up Eda. She just handed us a den of pimps catering to the pre-teen crowd we've got free reign to go beat the shit out of while saving a bunch of young girls from a life of prostitution," Ranma offered, draining half the can of beer in his hands as Ryouga's depressed frown grew into a feral smirk. The pigtailed boy belched. "You can take out that anger on our beer supply, or a bunch of scumbags handing kids over to the wrong sort of people. Your call."
The kids were safe and the thugs who'd been running the place were now gathered into a broken mass in the center of the former supermarket. Garish red carpet had been laid down on the floor and the first floor had been converted into a series of high-backed booths with curtains, an extensive bar in the center.
The upstairs had been well on its way into being converted into sound-proof rooms, though Ranma and Ryouga's... enthusiasm in ensuring that nobody escaped their assault had set that work back quick a bit.
A few broken bones among the younger men gathered in the crowd had been given more than ample reason to point out the man in charge, a heavyset Asian man with a bad comb-over, a cheap leisure suit in pastel blue, and several missing teeth courtesy of Ryouga.
The duo didn't bother to use rope to tie any of their audience up. Ranma had simply pointed to a chair, launched a chi blast far faster than even an Olympic athlete could run which obliterated said chair, and told the huddled mass that it was in their best interests not to run and to face whatever punishment they had coming to them.
"You don't know who you're fucking with," their captive explained angrily, breathing heavily. Ryouga grabbed him by the shirt and lifted him up.
"Neither do you, apparently," Ranma admitted, smiling a bit. "We're the Twin Hurricanes of Roanapur."
"That don't matter. There's going to be a power shift soon. Not you, not that bitch Balalaika or anyone else can stop it," the man bragged, causing Ranma to frown. "Me and my boys got in at the ground floor. We're in. By the time these guys are done with you, you'll wish you'd just died."
"Blah blah blah," Ryouga snapped, stomping on the man's foot, not breaking any bones but causing the man to grunt in pain. "You just tried to sell children to pedophiles. If Chief Watsup doesn't promise to cart you and everyone here off to jail for a long, long time... Well, we can always call Sawyer."
"Bullshit," the man spat, the loogie hitting Ryouga's cheek. "I know your rep. You don't kill, and you pussies ain't about to get Sawyer to turn us into pigfood. So turn us over to Watsup and let me work on getting this placed fixed up again."
"You must have been focused the part where we don't technically kill people and not enough on the sort of things we can do," Ranma noted with a whistle, folding his hands behind his head as he recognized the growing rage in his partner. "Normally I'd be calming Ryouga down from what he's about to do... but you just managed to piss off the strongest guy in Roanapur on the worst day of his life. Hell man, you all but rubbed his face in it that you think you're walking away from this and starting up this shit again like we wouldn't have come back here and done this same damn thing in a week or a month or whatever."
"The fuck's your point, pussy?"
"Point is, you just convinced Ryouga to show you that there's a lot worse you can do to a man than just killing him, and you've also convinced me that there's not even a single reason I can think of why I should stop him," the pigtailed boy replied, unclasping his hands to applaud the man. "I'd feel bad, but... You were just bragging about how you were going to pimp out kids again as soon as you could. I might be too squeamish to do what Ryouga's about to do, but that don't mean I'm gonna stop him."
"You wouldn't dare," the man began, before Ryouga grabbed his left arm, squeezing the forearm until he heard the bone snap somewhere. Based on the feeling of it, just two inches from the wrist in the ulna. A part of him enjoyed the terror in the man's eyes.
"My fiance just broke up with me today," Ryouga replied calmly, grinning a bit when he deliberately moved his hand up to the man's elbow. "Let's talk about the people who are going to be making up that fact to me when I'm done with you."
So, new arc. Obviously this one is going to deal with Ryouga, the fallout of Akari breaking up with him, whatever group Eda's set Ranma and Ryouga against, as well as a few other plot points I've hinted at in previous arcs. As I did last time, what I'm doing is posting a teaser chapter for the next arc while I go about writing the rest.
Once the arc is done being written (which I imagine will be just in time for Christmas), I'll start posting it on a weekly basis until the arc has been fully posted.
So... Yeah. Expect the next sequence of chapters to begin in a couple months, kiddos!