Tattoon Ranma

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< >: Thoughts

Chapter 9

Ranma Vs Happosai, and It's Not Going to Be Pretty!

"Eric?"

It was late that night as the Tattoon High Priestess found her beloved leaning against the railing on the balcony of their apartment, while gazing absently at the starry sky. Only a few short hours ago, the former heir to the Saotome School of the Anything Goes Martial Arts had gotten the mercenary daughter of Soun Tendo arrested on charges that would most likely result in a long prison sentence for her. At the time, it had felt good to have finally gotten back at her, but now he started wondering if it had been right to destroy her future. Then again, she wouldn't have hesitated to destroy his plans for a new life, by forcing him to return to his old one.

"Are... you all right?" Balla asked gently.

"Yeah... I suppose." Eric answered with a bit of hesitation.

"So, why are you looking so... unsure? Is it about what you did to Nabiki Tendo?"

"No... Yeah... well, that's part of it."

"What do you mean?"

"Everything is so... different from what I had back in Nerima."

"Are you saying that you want to go back to that?"

"NO! HELL NO!" Ranma stiffened up as he shook his head. "Why would I want to go back to all that crap?"

Balla breathed a small sigh of relief. "Then, what's bothering you? You did the RIGHT thing by calling the police, and exposing her for what she was. She's not going to cause trouble for you anymore."

"Yeah... it's just that things have changed so much, and I find myself doing things that I never did when I was just Ranma Saotome. I knew that things weren't going to be the same when I erased all my files at the National Register, and set myself up as Eric Kobayashi. Even though I completely let go of my past, it seems that my past doesn't want to let go of ME. Now, all of my troubles are coming back to me like a boomerang and..." He was a silent for a long time, as he thought back to the time that Ryoga had found him, and all the events that happened afterwards. "I feel as if I'm losing sight of who I am. I feel as if I'm starting to lose control again. I know I'm not Ranma Saotome anymore and I BELIEVE I'm Eric Kobayashi, but the things that happened to me are making me doubt that."

"Talk to me, Eric. Tell me all about it."

Ranma could only smile, as he was still amazed that SOMEONE was actually willing to listen to him; and a girl no less!

"When I fought Ryoga, I was so consumed with rage, that I didn't care about what I was doing to him. If you hadn't stopped me... I would've killed him. At the time, it wouldn't have made the slightest difference to me if he lived or died. I just wanted to pay him back for all the suffering and pain that he caused to me. I thought that by beating him to a bloody pulp, I could make all of that pain go away. Now that I've thought about it, I realized how empty I felt afterwards and how hollow that victory was. That pig had no right to have hurt Brody or attack me for those stupid reasons of his, but still..." Eric's voice trailed off as he sighed.

Balla nodded, then said, "I understand what your saying Eric. Up until now, the only you way you could fight back was with your fists. You've told me of your life and I have a pretty good idea of what you were like before I met you."

"Really?"

Balla nodded as she made the symbol on her forehead appear for a moment. "Remember, you and I have a very special bond. That bond allows me to understand you more each day. Before, you only knew of what your father taught you and you were never given a chance to decide for yourself. Now that you've abandoned those lessons, I think you're a bit uneasy at the fact that whatever choices you make now, will affect your future."

"I... guess." Ranma replied slowly. "Deciding for myself and doing what I want is a kick. It's just that I'm a bit afraid that the choices that I have made or will make may be the wrong ones."

"You'll never know unless you make them, Eric. That's what being able to make choices is all about. If you make some good choices then there's no sense in worrying about them. If they turn out to be bad ones, then at least you will learn from them and not make the same mistakes again. You did make some good choices after your fight with Ryoga. You could have killed Mousse, but instead you spared him and had him arrested. If he isn't put in prison, he'll at least be permanently deported.

You didn't lash out at that Kasumi person with fists, but with the truth about her family. And I'm especially proud of how you handled that Nabiki, by having her trap herself with her own words."

"Yeah. Though I'm still a bit... y'know, about this marriage thing? I wasn't exactly given a choice about that. Heck, I was only a year old when it happened."

"So was I." The Tattoon girl became a bit fearful as she asked, "So, are you still...?"

Ranma blushed a bit as he said, "Well, to tell you the truth... out of all the fiancées that I've had arranged for me, you're the only one that I... really like having around." <Even more so than I ever did with that bitch Akane!> He silently added.

Balla smiled as a bit of red tinged her cheeks.

Ranma then became serious again as he continued to stare out into the night sky. "The others are out there and I will have to face them, sooner or later."

"Well, you won't face them alone, Eric." She then quietly took his right arm and moved close to him. When he didn't flinch or back away, she moved closer and said quietly, "Like I said before, I'll ALWAYS be on your side."

The x-scarred martial artist was silent for a long while. Then, slowly but surely, he moved even closer to her as they gazed at the stars.

Balla then decided to ask him about what she had told her beloved earlier. "Eric? I was wondering..."

The former Saotome sighed and nodded. "You were wondering how I felt about her, right?"

"She is your mother, after all."

Eric shrugged. "Yeah, so what?"

"So... aren't you going to tell her that...?"

"That I'm really her son? No."

"Why not?"

"Why should I? I'm not a part of the Saotomes anymore, remember? Besides, my mother is just as dead to me as my so-called father."

"But Eric..."

"Ten years, Balla. It's been over ten years since I saw her and not once did she ever try to find her only son. Doesn't that tell you something?"

"But..."

"She left me to Genma. To me, that's even WORSE than being abandoned."

"Eric, you're being too harsh. I've met and talked with her. She appears to be a very nice person."

"Hmph! And what do you think she'll say if she finds out that her favorite waiter is really her son? She'll tell Genma and bring trouble down on top of me that much faster. I'll deal with him, but only when I'm ready and on MY terms."

"Still, you shouldn't deny your mother."

"What mother? She hasn't been my mother for over a decade. She was never there, when I was sad. She was never there, when I was lonely. She wasn't even there when I was hurt. She was never there, period. She just left me to Genma. I don't give a damn as to why she did that. As far as I'm concerned, she's nothing more than a stranger to me. I'm not going to make things more complicated by telling her the truth. Things were fine as they were, so I'm going to leave it at that."

"Eric..."

"And I don't want you telling her either. Promise me."

"I can't..."

"Promise me!"

Balla looked into his eyes and saw not hatred but absolute sadness. She couldn't stand to see him in that state, so after a long moment of silence, she nodded her head. This was something that her husband had to work out on his own.

----------

The very next day at school...

"Hey Eric, what's up?" Deiner asked as he and Brody came up to their sometimes friend.

"Nuthin' that I want to talk about." Eric growled, giving the two fair warning not to press their luck.

Balla sighed behind him and hoped that his current mood would change soon. She began to worry that he was again sliding toward depression and potentially explosive personality. She hoped that it wouldn't come to the same situation as it had been with Ryoga and Mousse. At that point, the two boys decided to change the subject.

"Hey Eric. Did you hear the latest news?" Deiner asked.

"What?" The former son of Nodoka and Genma replied with total disinterest.

"Someone has been stealing a lot of women's underwear for the past week." Brody said.

"What... did you say?" This had caught Eric's attention as he had a feeling that he knew who the culprit was. Who else could it be?

"A lot of women have been reporting to the police that somebody has been going around at night, and swiping the bras and panties off their clotheslines." Deiner related.

"Whoever this guy is, he must be one sick puppy." Brody remarked.

It was at that moment that Lisa appeared to join in the conversation.

"Whoever this pervert is, he's not going to get away with it." The bow-wielding girl emphasized her words by holding up her weapon. "I almost brought him down last night."

"What are talking about, Lisa?" Deiner asked.

Lisa gave the boys a smug look as she told them of the events of the previous night.

----------

Flashback...

Lisa was quietly meditating in her family's training hall. In front of her kneeling form was her bow. Her eyes were closed and her head was bowed down. A quiver of arrows was slung over her right shoulder. She had just finished a long session of target practice. On the other side of the training hall was a small target with more than twenty arrows stuck about its center. It had been a good night.

Down on the streets below, Happosai was cackling with glee. He was in his usual outfit for his nightly panty raid, and a large bag of unmentionables was slung over his back. Even though Ranma wasn't around to prevent him from his usual perverted antics, Happy had found that stealing women's underwear in a new city had its appeal. There were just so many new varieties and locations, that the ancient lecher couldn't resist and was hard at work, building a new collection. At that moment he caught sight of a very nice pair of pink panties that was swaying on an outside rack.

"WOO HOO! COME TO HAPPY!"

With one great leap, Happosai reached out to snatch his latest treasure.

FFFFFFTTT! THOK!

The old lecher stopped suddenly and pulled back his hand, just a heartbeat before an arrow suddenly appeared and embedded itself in the wooden support beam beside the clothes rack. If he had moved an instant slower, then his hand would have been skewered.

"Whoa! What's this?" The ancient pervert turned and saw a very angry heir to the Fujimatsu School of Short-Range Archery.

"So you're the Underwear Thief that's been stealing panties and bras for the last week! How dare you invade my home with your perversions?! Prepare to die!"

"Now wait a minute! Don't get so upset over one little pair of panties..." Happy began but was cut off when Lisa began launching arrows in rapid succession like a submachine gun.

Not expecting such a hostile reaction and being weighed down with his night's work, the Master of the Anything Goes Martial Arts was bit unprepared for the barrage. He evaded each arrow without getting hit. His large sack of unmentionables however, was not as lucky.

FFFFFTTTT! RIIIIIIPPPP!

"NOOOO! ALL MY PRETTIES!"

As always, Genma and Soun's sensei was a total slave to his perversions. As soon as all that underwear spilled out, he instantly forgot about his situation and went scrambling to retrieve them. Unfortunately for him, whenever he became distracted, he became an easy target for even non-martial artists. Lisa was quick to take advantage of Happosai's lapse in judgment. Even worse for him, was that his back was turned and he was bending over to pick up the underwear, presenting the girl with an irresistible bullseye. At that instant, she launched her special Thousand-Neck Rending Arrow.

FFFFFTTTTTTT!

The old martial artist tried to dodge... but he didn't quite make it.

THOK! THOK! THOK! THOK! THOK!

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!"

Happosai ran off in a flash, clutching at the seat of his pants and forgetting his bundle of purloined panties. Lisa was left standing with a smile on her face. Though her wash had gotten caught in the crossfire and had been shredded, the loss had been worth it.

----------

End of flashback...

"I'm sure that Underwear Thief got the POINT!" Lisa said with a smile.

Eric's mouth became a straight line after hearing this. There was no doubt about it. Lisa had encountered Happosai, though Eric could imagine that the old pervert was having a hard time of trying to sit down at this moment. However, this incident would probably have made the little runt even madder and Balla's husband could only expect more trouble.

----------

At a certain hotel...

"OW! OW! OW!"

Happosai winced as he gently lay down on his belly on the bed. He had spent the night removing the five sharp spikes that had found their way to his posterior. Even with his rapid healing, it was going to take him a couple of days to recover. He hadn't expected that arrow to explode into a swarm of metal, barb-tipped slivers. However, the most infuriating part of that panty raid, was the fact that he had been forced to abandon an entire night's work.

As the old lecher winced and groaned, while trying to think of a way to recoup his losses, Soun was bawling his eyes out. After hearing that his daughter was now in jail, the emotional martial artist had been crying nonstop over how the arrest was marring the Tendo name. Furthermore, there was no way that they could pay for Nabiki's bail, and the evidence against her was so overwhelming, that it was very likely that she was heading for some prison time. They were even more shocked to hear that Ranma was the one who had turned her in.

After hearing the news, Akane was blaming Ranma for their predicament, and was promising immense pain for when she caught up to him. As for Kasumi, she had tried to console her father, but with no such luck. However, unlike before, she was not saying that things would work out. After her encounter with Ranma... no, Eric, she had finally come to terms with reality. It was now obvious to her that he wanted nothing to do with her family and that it may be best to leave him be. She had suggested to her father to give up on the pledge to unite the schools and head back to Nerima.

However, both Genma and Soun proved to be more stubborn than a herd of mules and maintained that despite what had happened to Nabiki, the Schools must be joined. Genma was unwilling to abandon his dream of a long and luxurious retirement, and Soun was blinded by pride and obsession.

Things were now getting to the point of no return and dire consequences would soon be felt among the Tendo Clan.

----------

At this point, Eric had come to a decision. Instead of waiting for Happosai to find him, he decided to take the battle to the old lecher. With that in mind, he began to plan. After taking out from a drawer, a small notebook that contained certain phone numbers, he went over to the phone and began dialing. A few moments later, a person answered.

"Hello?"

"Hello. Detective Nagata?" Eric said. "I have some more information concerning the whereabouts of the infamous Underwear Thief. He's here in Hiroshima. I may be able to help you in apprehending him..."

----------

A few days later...

"Eric? Are you sure about this?"

The person who had been Ranma Saotome nodded as he prepared to head out. "It has to be done. Sooner or later, I'm going to have to confront him. I'd like it to be much later or never, but this is something that can't be ignored."

"I could help..." Balla began, but was stopped when her beloved held up a hand while shaking his head.

"No. That little gnome thrives on groping females and underwear. It would be best if you weren't anywhere near him. The last thing I'd want is for him to lay his grubby hands on you." Eric said this with a hard edge to his voice. "This fight's been long in coming. It's time that I settled things with that lech."

"If he's really as formidable as you've told me, then you could use my help and..."

Eric shook his head again. "It's okay, Balla. I do know his weak spots. Also, I've gotten a lot better since I left Nerima, plus I have these to fall back on." He raised his hands, while letting his secondary tattoos appear for a moment.

Balla was still worried though. "Be careful Eric. Don't force those secondary tattoos. Let them come out gradually, otherwise you might strain yourself and cause damage to your body."

"I'll be okay." The x-scarred martial artist assured then gazed for a long time at the Tattoon Priestess. He still couldn't get over the fact that someone was actually on his side, and was a girl to boot. When he had left Nerima, he had practically sworn off all females. In just a short while, the blonde girl had not only gotten him to open up again, but had established a place in his heart. There was no denying it any more. She was now a part of him and he could not stand the thought of her coming to any harm. She was special, of that much he was certain. Although he was still unwilling to admit to himself, that she meant more to him than all of his former fiancées combined, at least he could depend on her for support when he needed it.

Seeing the concern in her eyes, Eric then did something that he had never done before with Akane or any of the other girls. He leaned forward and gave her a small kiss on the forehead. For one brief moment, the marks on their foreheads appeared and glowed in tandem, signifying their bond. Then Eric left to face the one who had caused him much turmoil in Tokyo.

Balla could only watch as her husband departed. She silently prayed to her tribe's deities to keep him safe.

----------

A few dozen blocks away...

"WAHOO! WHAT A HAUL! WHAT A HAUL!"

After recovering from his encounter with Lisa, Happosai was back to his usual antics, trying to make up for lost time. However, he was so confident that no one would be able to stop him, that he was throwing caution to the wind and was stealing underwear in broad daylight. And in this case, that was a grave error in judgement. As he darted back and forth between houses, snatching bras and panties from their clotheslines, he was unaware that he was being tracked.

The police departments of Hiroshima and Tokyo had been working together, and had set up numerous hidden camera and stakeout positions, throughout the areas near Eric's school and workplace. They had been lying in wait for several days, and it had only been a matter of time before they began making sightings of the little pervert. Since the ancient Grandmaster was so intent on his collection, he was not aware that he was under surveillance. The police knew who he was and the evidence was now piling up.

Detective Nagata nodded as he saw Happosai bounce by his unmarked car. Everything was going to plan as he radioed his fellow officers. It would soon be up to Eric to spring the trap.

----------

The hooded stranger paused as she stood on a nearby rooftop. Something was happening. On her forehead, a mystic tattoo appeared, alerting her of a presence of someone, with energies that were on a similar wavelength as her own.

<Could it be? Is... that Balla? No... it's someone else, but I can feel the connection to her. Hmmm... it could be the one that Balla had been promised to. This bears looking into.>

After contemplating the matter for a few moments, the girl decided to investigate. She made another tattoo appear on the back of her right hand, then vanished.

----------

Happosai was having a ball. Nothing could stop him from beating his all-time personal best, especially since Ranma wasn't...

SHOOM! RIP!

The old lecher was taken completely by surprise when a bolt of light appeared from out of nowhere and tore a gaping hole in his bag. His purloined female unmentionables went flying.

"NOOOOOO! NOT MY SILKY DARLINGS!"

Now one would think that he would have learned from his previous errors, but Happosai was too set in his ways to change now. Like a conditioned reflex, he focused all of his attention on retrieving his load of stolen underwear. And that was when he was sent flying forward when Eric suddenly came up from behind with a flying side-kick.

WHABOOM!

The ancient pervert shot like a rocket, and slammed hard into the side of a laundry truck, smashing into the cargo hold. Happosai found himself buried under piles of undergarments, but of a different type.

Now this particular truck had just picked up a load of laundry from a prison, specifically a prison full of MEN. And none of those prison uniforms, socks, shirts and underwear had been washed in over two weeks! One can imagine what was happening.

"EEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW! YUCK! UGH! GROSS! I CAN'T BREATHE! LET ME OUT OF HERE!"

Eric smiled as he waited for the weakened Happosai to emerge from the truck. He knew from experience that the old lecher's main source of energy was from fondling female flesh and their underwear. The feel and smell of male flesh had the opposite effect, draining him of his power and made him even more vulnerable. Though he hated the little pervert, Eric still considered him a formidable opponent and weakening him first would help in bringing Happosai down for keeps. The police had thought it strange that he would request a truck full of unwashed men's clothing, but they did as he had asked. It was all part of the plan. To make certain, he quickly gathered up all the underwear that Happosai had dropped and tossed them into a nearby car trunk, which happened to belong to an undercover cop. It wouldn't do for the runt to have any chance to recharge his batteries. Several other police officers were hiding in strategic locations, just waiting for the signal to go in and arrest the criminal.

Happosai came sputtering out of the back of the truck, throwing off socks and other articles of clothes that had stuck to him. "ICK! There's nothing that makes a person sick like the smell of a man! I'm so dizzy! I need my pretties!"

"Tough. You ain't getting any."

Happosai knew that irritating, cocky voice. He looked up and his eyes narrowed as he beheld his former disciple. The new hairstyle, different clothes and the scar on his forehead did not fool the old lecher. The aura was the same, though it had a bit more enchantment about it than Happosai remembered. He assumed incorrectly that it was the Jusenkyo curse.

"YOU!"

Eric shrugged as he stood with his arms crossed. "Yeah. It's me."

The old pervert then smiled evilly as he realized that he didn't need his bag of underwear. A good groping of Ranma's female side would be even better than a week's worth of panty raids. "Well, well, well. So I finally found you."

Eric showed no fear, nor concern as he took a stance. "I had a feeling that you were the one behind all those recent underwear thefts." Eric then snorted. "Who else could it be?"

Happosai shrugged as he also took a stance. "Hey, a guy's got to keep in shape, right? I almost beat my old panty raid record until you came along."

What Happosai didn't know was that his words were sealing his fate. The undercover officers had also set up several hidden cameras and audio recorders around the area. Irrefutable evidence was building up against him.

"Now then, how should you pay for ruining my fun, hmmm?" Happosai taunted.

The ancient lecher did not bother Eric in the slightest. Balla's beloved knew exactly what he was thinking about. Well, he was in for quite a shock.

"I KNOW!" Happosai said in mock inspiration. "You'll simply come back to the dojo and let my cry in your ample bosom for... oh, say for the rest of your life!"

"You think can make me? Then come on!" Eric dared.

Happosai leapt at his former student, intending on the quick knockout, then splash with cold water and grope. However, as he neared Ranma, he realized that he was a lot slower and that he was feeling some slight nausea. Coordination was off and he didn't feel as much pep as he had before being in that truck.

<Uh oh! Those stinky clothes must have weakened me more than I thought! I better...>

Happosai had just gotten out his pipe to try and flip his opponent, but Eric had long since learned from his mistakes and had anticipated the move. Feinting to the left, then spinning about in a roundhouse kick, he avoided the pipe as Happosai reached out to try and hook his arm with it. Eric's foot came around and slammed hard into the old man's back. This sent the Master of the Anything Goes back into the laundry truck!

"YEEEEEEEEEEEUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKK! ICK! ICK! ICK!" Happosai felt more of his strength draining away.

Eric went into another stance as he prepared for his adversary's next attack. He was so focused on dealing with his foe, that he did not notice that someone else was watching.

High above on the roof of a nearby building, the stranger had appeared and gazed down toward the street. She nodded as she pulled down her hood and revealed an attractive face with red hair.

Balla's older sister Kandor smiled as she watched the events unfold.

<Interesting. I can sense Tattoon power from this one, but I also sense my sister's essence as well. > It was then that she noticed the scar on Eric's forehead. <So, my little sister is married now. Well, I think I've just found a way to get at Balla. >

----------

Down on the street, Happosai realized that he was in trouble. Ranma wasn't fighting like he used to. His former disciple had abandoned his flashy, airborne style for more direct and brutal tactics. He wasn't fighting recklessly or letting his cockiness or pride get in the way. He was all business. There were far less openings in his defense and each move was now more calculated. The preparation with the laundry truck was a good example that the boy was thinking more on strategy, rather than trying to dazzle him with style. A large amount of Happy's ki had been drained, and Ranma wasn't giving him any chance to recharge.

"Is that all youíve got? You hit like a girl." Happy taunted.

WHABOOM!

"Heh. Lucky shot. Bet you canít do that again!"

WHACK!

"Youíre... a thousand lifetimes too early to beat me!"

THOP!

"Maybe... you... should turn... into a girl. That was... the... only... way... you could beat... me."

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! CRACK!

The old pervert went tumbling back again. The Founding School of the Anything Goes Martial Arts mirrored Genmaís fighting style. It relied heavily on getting one's opponent mad and therefore careless, but Happosai's foe wasn't snapping at the bait any more. He had thrown several taunts and such at the x-scarred martial artist, but Eric simply ignored them and concentrated on pressing the attack. With his perversion-fueled ki at low levels, Happosai began to feel fatigue far sooner than he usually did. He needed a breather.

"HAPPO-FIRE BURST!"

However, just as he was about to throw his patented Fuse-Bomb Attack, Eric thrust out a hand and the tattoo on the back of his hand appeared, causing a blast of wind to appear. The ancient pervert was caught totally off-guard and was sent flying back, along with his bomb. Guess where they landed?

"YUCK! ICK! ICK! NO MORE!"

That was when the bomb went off.

KABOOM!

Happosai was sent flying upward, along with several articles of dirty laundry. When he came back down, he was absolutely PISSED! As he glared at Eric, he wondered just how he had done that wind technique. The old lecher was familiar with the Hiryu Shoten Ha, but the boy had not led him into a spiral, nor kept calm. In fact, his aura was burning hotter than ever.

"It's time we settled things, once and for all." Eric growled. "You're going DOWN!"

Getting into a ready stance of his own, the ancient master began channeling what little of his perverted ki he had left. He wasn't going to be defeated by some snot-nosed punk! However, he wasn't certain if he had the strength. Things began to seem even grimmer as Eric's tattoos began to appear.

<Huh? Wait a minute! Since when did Ranma have tattoos? And why do I sense more magic emanating from him? It seems to be coming from those markings and... oh no!> Happosai's eyes widened as he realized something. That wind technique that Eric had used had taken Happosai by surprise, because it had not been based on ki, but rather on magic. There was no mistake about it. Ranma had somehow gotten a hold on some kind of mystic energy and that gave him a distinct advantage.

Just as Happosai realized what he was up against, Ranma's aura flared, and then the martial artist disappeared from sight. Happosai looked about, trying to discern his foe's position, but his ki senses were at low ebb, due to the dirty laundry, and detecting magical energy was far more difficult.

CRUNCH!

The pervert let off a scream of pain as Eric suddenly reappeared behind him and shot out a kick. The ancient lecher had tried to dodge, but his reflexes were slower and his opponent had correctly guessed which way he would try to evade. The foot connected with the junction of Happy's left knee, causing it to be dislocated.

Happy rolled away, favoring his left leg and tried to escape. However, Eric wasn't going to let him as his tattoos flared again and released more power. Another gust of wind was summoned, causing Happy to be tossed into the air again. This time, the air pressure created a hard pressure which hit like a battering ram. Eric leapt up and thrust out with his right leg, aiming for his opponent's face. With the power backing the kick, Happy knew that this was going to hurt as he braced for impact.

WHOMP!

It DID hurt! Ranma's blows were packing far more power than Happy had remembered, since the last time they had fought. He landed hard on the pavement. Whatever magic Ranma had gotten a hold of was somehow boosting his personal power. Either that or his battle aura had gotten more potent since he left Nerima. The ancient martial artist had just barely gotten to his feet when Ranma charged in.

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

Several more blows got through Happy's rapidly degrading defenses. He had to credit his former pupil. Usually, Happy's speed was his greatest asset, to make up for the short reach of his limbs. Then there was the inhuman strength and endurance that he had from his perversions. The dirty men's underwear had sapped his speed, strength and reflexes enough for his opponent to have an advantage. Added to the fact was that he knew some kind of magical spells. Happy tried several more of his techniques against Eric, but they weren't enough. Ranma had experienced many of the lecher's maneuvers during his stay at the Tendo Dojo and had long since learned from his mistakes.

Every move he attempted, Eric would have a counter. Every time he tried to snag him with his pipe, Eric would dodge, then strike back. Eventually, one hit snapped the pipe in two, thereby shortening Happosai's reach even further. He attempted the Interdimensional Warp technique and faded from view. However, there were three problems. First, he couldn't attack when he was like that. Second, it drained his ki even further, and third, he couldn't hide from Eric's mystic senses. With one hard roundhouse, Eric's fist connected at what seemed to be empty air.

WHAM!

Genma and Soun's master reappeared and was sent flying into a wall of a nearby building. This time, Eric's foe couldnít ignore the pain as he got up again. He running out of tricks as Eric advanced to finish him off.

Happosai found himself getting desperate. If this battle continued to drag on, he'd be the loser. However, he still had his ace-in the-hole. Now if he could only get into position. Mustering up his remaining stores of energy, he threw out another fusebomb.

Eric simply swatted the explosive away. The bomb blew up harmlessly to one side, thereby providing a slight distraction. Happosai then disappeared from sight.

Balla's beloved wasn't fooled by the ruse. His tattoos came into sight again and his aura flared, just as Happosai appeared behind him and reached out for a spot on Eric's back.

"EEEEEEEEYYYYAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!"

Happosai felt as if he had run into a raging inferno when he hit Ranma's battle aura. He felt his skin suddenly flare in pain as he was sent flying backward, landing hard on his back some twenty feet away. He looked down and saw that the front of his gi was charred and he now sported several serious burns. He looked up and saw his former student once again approach him.

"Not this time, you little freak." Eric growled. "I'm not about to let you drain my strength with that Moxibustion Point again." He held up his hands and cracked the knuckles. "It's over."

----------

It was at that time that Kandor decided to intervene. Raising a hand and making the tattoo on it appear, she then directed her energies at Eric.

----------

Eric could taste the impending victory. He had worn the old lecher down and HapposaiĎs bag of tricks was almost empty. However, just as he was powering up his aura and Tattoon powers for the final assault, a sharp stabbing pain flared in his head.

"AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!"

All of his tattoos began glowing like hot coals, especially his Primary Mark. In an instant, Eric felt as if he was in Hell as his body started convulsing. He held his head and thrashed about as the pain began to increase.

----------

Kandor smiled. The connection between her sister and this man would soon have Balla making an appearance.

----------

Eric's apartment...

Balla's head suddenly came up as the mark on her forehead appeared. She shivered as the sensations of pain and anguish from Eric, nearly flooded her entire being. Eric was in trouble.

Balla got up and immediately cast a spell to transport her to her beloved's side.

----------

Happosai wondered why Ranma had suddenly stopped when he was about to achieve victory. He didnít understand what was going on, but he wasnít about to let an opportunity slip by. As his adversary convulsed in pain, the old man got up and staggered toward his helpless target. With one leap, he touched a spot on Ranmaís back and activated the Moxibustion Point.

Eric let off another scream as he felt the strength in his body leave him, which made the pain in his body even more unbearable. His hands clenched his head even tighter as it felt as if it was about to burst.

----------

On the roof...

Kandor smiled. It wouldnít be long now. She then looked down at the person that Eric had been attacking and got another idea. Directing some of her energies at Happosai, she began infusing him with added power, thereby healing his injuries and replenishing his stores of ki.

----------

The ancient master of the Anything Goes wondered why his body wasnít feeling any more pain and that it was feeling stronger than before. He smiled evilly as he naturally assumed that he was getting his second wind. Now Ranma would pay for disrespecting his master! And with his strength currently removed...

Eric barely had time to raise his arms to defend when Happy shot forward in a jump kick. However, with no strength, the martial artist was sent flying backward and slammed into a nearby parked car.

"Heh. Not so feeling so high and mighty now, are you Ranma?" The pervert taunted.

The x-scarred fighter knew that he was in trouble.

----------

Balla appeared nearby and saw her husband in severe pain. She began running toward him.

"Eric!"

It was then that Happosai spotted her and launched himself at her ample bosom.

"HOTCHA! COME TO HAPPY!"

However, the Tattoon Priestess was far from helpless. As soon as the little lecher came close, she instinctively put up a protective barrier, causing him to be deflected away. However, when it came to pretty girls, Happosai wasnít one to give up so easily.

"Aw come on sweetie! Donít be mean!" He then launched himself repeatedly at the shield, only to be turned away each time.

By now, Eric could stand no more. He didnít know what was causing this pain, but it was secondary compared to what was happening now. Even the loss of his strength meant nothing! That pervert was daring to force himself on Balla, the only person in which Eric cared about the most! She was the only person who ever listened to him! She was the only person who understood him! That was it, Happosai was DEAD!

Summoning up the strength that he never knew he had, Eric let off a roar of pure rage as his battle aura exploded. This made all the police officers in hiding back off from the sudden burst of light. The entire city block was lit up like a solar flare.

This event caused the old lecher to pause in his attempt to grope Balla. He turned and saw Ranma glowing with an aura like the sunís corona. New tattoos began appearing all over his body as the current ones also became visible. His face contorted in a mask of pure anger, all focused on his tormentor.

----------

Kandor let off her own cry of pain and staggered back. She had never expected such feedback and she was forced to severe the connection. She looked down at her sister and her husband and watched the confrontation reach its climax.

----------

Balla gasped as she realized what was happening. "ERIC! DONíT FORCE THEM!"

However, Eric was beyond reason at the moment as more tattoos appeared. On his back, the Mark of The Moxibustion Point smoked a bit, then disintegrated as another Secondary Tattoo appeared. His Tattoon Powers were rejecting the foreign symbol and its effects. Ericís strength returned all at once as he charged at his foe.

Happosai smirked. Ranmaís aura was impressive, but with his strength gone, there was no way he could hurt him and...

WHABOOM!

Happosai received the full force of Ericís punch in the kisser. He slammed hard into a street sign, causing it to snap in two. Before he even had time to think, Eric plowed another fist into his chest, causing three ribs to buckle and snap. Even though Happy had gotten some of his strength back from Kandorís spell, it wasnít enough compared to a rage-enhanced Ranma, especially when he had Tattoon Power. Eric began dishing out punishment on a level that made Ryoga and Mousseís beatings seem trifling, all within the span of a couple of heartbeats. His speed and power were mind-blowing as he took Genma and Sounís teacher apart.

WHAM!

Broken right arm.

CRACK! CRACK!

Both legs.

WHOMP!

Ruptured spleen.

CRUNCH!

Broken left Arm.

WHACK! WHACK! THOP! WHAM!

Various face bones.

WHAM! WHAM!

Nearly collapsed ribcage.

WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

How many of Happosaiís bones have Eric not broken?

After several more hits, Eric held up a bloodied Happosai by the front of his gi and snarled. "DONíT... EVER... TOUCH... BALLA!" He then cocked back his fist to deliver the final blow.

"NO ERIC! PLEASE! DONĎT DO IT!"

Once again, Ballaís voice of reason penetrated Ericís haze of rage and anguish. However, it took several agonizing moments before he unclenched his fist and let the battered lecher fall to the ground in an unconscious heap. Then he too fell to the pavement.

The Tattoon Priest ran to her belovedís side, knelt down and cradled his head in her arms. She held him close to her and whispered to him. "Shhh. Itís all right Eric. Itís all over. Iíll take care of you."

Eric opened his eyes and smiled weakly at her. Then he asked in faltering voice. "Did... I win? Did I... beat him?"

Balla nodded. "Yes. You won. Now hush. Save your strength."

Eric chuckled a bit, though it hurt him to do so. "I did it. I finally... beat... that old... freak." He then lapsed into unconsciousness as his tattoos faded away. The area began to dim as the light of his aura also faded away.

Balla used her mystic senses to check on Happosaiís condition. After making certain that he wasnít going to die, she then remembered what Eric had told her about him. She decided on some measures to insure that the old pervert would never again cause trouble to her husband. With a simple gesture, she drew a mark on Happosaiís forehead, which then faded into his skin. She nodded as she then invoked a second spell to make herself and her beloved vanish, leaving the master of the Anything Goes to his fate.

----------

Kandor had seen enough. It seemed that both her sister and her husband were stronger opposition than she had originally believed. She would have to give this some more thought. She then faded from herself.

----------

The police officers had just begun emerging from where they had taken cover during the sudden light show. When they came into view, all they could see was a devastated landscape and only Happosai in a broken heap. Eric was nowhere in sight.

Detective Nagata and his group slowly began approaching the battered form of their suspect. When they got to him, they saw that he wasnít going to get up for a while and decided this was the best time to take him in. A few officers went over to handcuff him as Nagata turned to his partner Tanaka.

"Did anyone get any of that on film?"

The sergeant shook his head. "Whatever that light was, caused the cameras to develop static, but the recorders did catch the first part of the suspectís confession. That and all the other evidence that weíve got on him, plus all the witnesses back in Nerima should be more than enough to nail that little sucker to the wall."

"Well, I guess that will be enough. I wonder what happened to Kobayashi?"

"I don't know, but he really went overboard back there. I think he went too far in subduing the suspect. We may have to issue out a warrant..."
"Leave him be."
"What?"
"I said leave him be."

"But sir, he..."
"May I remind you of the deal that he made with the chief? In return for the information about the Underwear Thief and other criminals in Nerima, plus any aid in arresting them, he was to be given FULL immunity from any and all investigations about him. That was the deal."

"Yeah, but..."

"Do you think we could have brought down the Underwear Thief by ourselves?"

Tanaka paused for a moment, then shook his head. The police had been trying for over a year with no luck.

Nagata nodded. "Thanks to him, we'll be able to close several hundred unsolved cases of petty theft, and other more serious crimes. I think we can bend the rules this one time. He didn't kill anyone and we DON'T have any solid evidence against him, do we?"

"Well... no." Tanaka had to agree, since the cameras had nothing but static and none of the other officers witness the beating, since they had the light had blinded them all.

"Like I said, forget about Kobayashi. He's already done more than his fair share as a concerned citizen." Nagata silently added. <And I've seen that look in his eyes that he's already been through a lot of pain. He doesn't need any more trouble. >

"Well, okay... you're the one in charge of the operation."

Nagata nodded as he added. "Oh, and remember about the information that Kobayashi gave us. The suspect is to have ZERO contact with anything female. That means no bras, panties, OR women. Make sure that only MALE officers are assigned to guard him until he's fit enough to stand trial."

"Roger."

----------

At the apartment...

"Oh, my poor Eric."

Balla had laid her husband down on the futon and was currently tending to his wounds with her healing powers. The damage to his body had been extensive, due to the sudden emergence of his new Secondary Tattoos. Instead of letting his tattoos come out naturally, he had forced them to appear, thereby straining his body to its limits to overcome the Moxibustion Point. His ki had also been severely taxed and it would take a while for his stores to replenish and stabilize themselves. However, the greatest injury of all was to his very soul.

The Tattoon Priestess had been concerned with Eric's mental and emotional stability for some time now. For a while, she had thought that he had begun to gain control over his anger, but today he had nearly lost it all again. The road to recovery was going to be an uphill battle.

As she continued with her ministrations, she began detecting the faint traces of someone else's spiritual essence. She started to suspect that someone, other than the people from Eric's past, was the cause of him losing control. She gasped as she recognized the mystic signature.

<Kandor! It couldn't be... could it? >

Balla knew that if her sister was in Hiroshima, then that meant more trouble was on the horizon. If she was responsible for putting her husband in such a state, then the younger sibling had to be very careful when she confronted her. As she did all that she could to heal Eric's wounds, she leaned even closer to the unconscious martial artist and whispered lovingly in his ear.

"Eric... whatever happens, I'll ALWAYS be with you. I love you."

She then finished with her spells and decided that rest would be the best thing for him at the moment. She then got up and went to the kitchen to prepare some herbal remedies for when he would awaken.

She did not see Eric opening his eyes slightly as she walked over the kitchen. As his eyes gazed upon a blurry image of her, he replied in the quietest of whispers.

"I... love you too, Balla."

Eric then slipped back into unconsciousness again.

To be continued...

Author's Notes

Well, when the title said that it wasn't going to be pretty, it wasn't, for both Happy and Eric/Ranma. As you can see, not all of Ranma's confrontations with the Nerima Crew are going to be just simple beat-downs. With the appearance of Balla's vengeful sister, things are going to start heating up.