Demonbane Ltd. presents a work of Ranma ½ fiction
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ characters property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. The Legacy of Kain Series is © Copyright 1996 - 1997, 1999 - 2003 Crystal Dynamics and is published by Eidos Interactive.
Chapter Four: One More Game
The trio approached, striding confidently along the empty streets, intent on their destination. They seemed an odd, mismatched bunch.
Kenshiro was tall and lanky, and moved with a calm certainty that marked him as someone confident in his skills and abilities. Clothed as he was, in gray clothes rather than black, he was actually fairly hard to make out in more shadowed areas along their path.
The second was a little smaller than Kenshiro, and a little broader in the shoulders. This one answered to Yoshi, if he did at all. A blunt man, in conversation as in approach. His face was bland, the only noteworthy part being the small scar above the right eyebrow. He didn't particularly care about obfuscation, and had opted for a worn leather jacket over a tee, and blue jeans. The first impression one got when looking at him was — you don't want to be in front of him when he got going. He had about him the same presence as a steamroller.
The last one he was out of place. Ichiro Ikari was shortish, stocky, and somewhat balding. Bespectacled and wearing a presentable if old-looking suit, one would think he'd try as he could to avoid the company of the two others. That is, until you really looked at him. He didn't fit in more ways than just his appearance.
Before them, just around the corner, the Tendou dojo stood, quiet beneath the cloudy skies of the night.
Nabiki didn't know what had woken her up, but judging from the cold sweat she could make an educated guess. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the dream, ignoring her instinct's insistence to ignore it lest she find out something she really didn't want to know
and sat up with a gasp as an image from memory came flooding into her mind, as clear as something immediately before her eyes.
She could almost smell the coppery tint in the air, the shower of scarlet rain, of blood, falling around her as the Yakuza thugs who'd attempted to "collect" their due from her were shredded by something. She clutched her eyes shut again, trying desperately to drown out the image and noise of whatever had done it, the glint of metal in the moonlight that she remembered having seen
she let loose a slow, ragged sob
and stopped breathing altogether as she realized there was something wrong, and not in the memory. In the now.
Ignoring the stiffening limbs and aches from yesterday night's "interrupted" beating, she rose, straining to find what had drawn her attention.
She heard a noise from somewhere downstairs, and froze again, stopping her breath again. There was silence
It was probably nothing, she reasoned, her mind not really believing. She shook her head, picked up the baseball bat that she'd stashed underneath the bed.
She realized it was the first time in almost a year that she was actually holding it. She'd actually liked playing — softball, that is — back when she'd had some free time. As in before the Panda came and drove the living expenses into the sky.
She realized that she was too sore to actually give more than one decent swing with it, but it was better than nothing. And if it proved to be a quirk of her hearing, well, better safe than
that was the moment that her door flew open, rather violently, and several dark forms came inside. She swung
She watched the beast, even after she'd lost her physical manifestation. The overwhelming feeling of hopeless rage coursed through her, at being unable to stop it from passing, but it was swiftly replaced as she sensed the other presence. It wasn't quite as dark, but more of a maelstrom. Where this one was almost a uniform, and she had to grudgingly admit, somewhat beautiful obsidian, the new one was murky, tumbling in misdirection and malice.
Just like the one that had taken her life.
Deities, it was happening all over again.
The Revenant contained a useless cry, and instead focused. There was little to draw on, really, to speed her regeneration. She needed to bind together enough energy, and do it coherently enough, to take form again and defend her daughters. Even if it meant her ultimate demise.
If it was the last thing she did, she'd not let any of these monsters hurt them
She looked at the white haired man shaped beast that had sent her into this state, and boggled as his body dissolved into rolling mist.
A wave of malevolent energy, very subtle and understated but powerful in its own right, swept past her and into the household.
She despaired for a moment, but then bent her will to the task, actually grasping some of that energy and binding it to speed her own recovery.
She prayed that she'd make it in time as her full concentration turned inward, towards restoring her reserves.
"What the hell?" Koga shifted, suspicious of something he had no idea of what, though. "What's with the fog, anyway?"
They could see a thin film of white vapor covering the grounds inside the gate, and stepped in cautiously. Nothing happened.
"Could be from the pond," Yoshi commented, pointing at the small body of water.
"Could. I'm not sure, though " Kenshiro wasn't a genius, but he hadn't gotten as far along as he did by foregoing caution.
"Be still," the "sarariman" told them as he strode, confidently, into the house. He ignored the fog. "I've put them all to sleep, so get the girl and let's get out of here."
"Ain't'cha coming in with us?" Yoshi' eyes narrowed into slits. "I mean, that's what you're here for, ain't it? Makin' sure nothing happens to us like to the last guys who tried it?"
"There's nothing inside but five humans," he scoffed at them. "One is somewhat more talented at controlling his own energy, but his mind was so weak it was child's play to put him to sleep."
"What about outside?" Kenshiro swept the grounds with an experienced eye.
"That," Ichiro answered, grinning darkly, "is exactly why I am here. Now go, I will see to this inconvenience."
The two men looked to each other, then to him, nodded and started inside.
Ichiro waited until they were gone before continuing towards the pond. He could almost sense something there, but it was somewhat difficult. He focused more intently, but again, couldn't find what it was that had aroused his interest.
Instead of ignoring the sensation and dismissing it as harmless, he decided to investigate. And he was getting tired of keeping up the facade.
Ichiro's posture straightened, his face twisted and lengthened as the suit he was wearing melted into his skin, which in turn became grayish in color. His eyes, now twin pools of blackness, again scanned the yard.
"How quaint, a guardian spirit." He grinned, looking at the astral form of a kneeling woman, ambient energy gathering around her as she tried to
He thwarted it, sending out his own feelers and drawing the power into himself. Her head shot up, gaze wild, fixing on him.
"So, this is what killed those pathetic little humans?" he leered. If she were corporal, he could have had some fun with her before getting to the gristly grit of work, but alas "Too weak after dealing with those whelps yesterday? Not even able to stand."
He stepped closer, a wide, toothy grin forming on his face.
"What?" the wind whispered, genuine puzzlement taking place of the loathing on the woman's face for an instant. "Yesterday? What men?"
The being going under the alias of Ichiro Ikari had known many liars, some insanely skillful, and had in time learned to glean the truths from lies quite aptly. That was why he was shocked to see that this spirit, however much loathing and hate she held towards him and his kind, apparently was being truthful.
He was arrogant, but not stupid. And he realized that he'd just made a mistake. The power signature of the spirit had much potential, but seemed weakened. There was something in the air, a lingering speck of power. He threw all his senses into a search, not subtle at all
then he simply looked and saw that the mist was gone.
A window on the first floor of the Tendou home erupted in a shower of glass and splinters, and he whipped his head about at the noise.
He had this sudden feeling of impending dread and before he could see to it or do anything about it he found himself impaled on a sharp steel blade, back to front.
Ranma was laughing. Of course, this manifested as some small fluttering of the air at his current point of "perspective".
That was the weird thing about this form. He had no sight, no real hearing, nothing like that only a sense of touch. Right now he was spread thin, a film of mist barely above the ground outside of and inside the Tendou house.
His so-called "perspective" was currently rooting through Genma Saotome's pack. And shaking with laughter at the contents. He didn't have to unpack anything, even, since he simply sent wisps inside to probe the items inside, then his disembodied mind read and interpreted the sensory data, feeding the results to his actual consciousness.
And as the examination ended, he concluded that the only thing he could do was laugh at it all.
Ever since he'd witnessed what a real family should be like, more or less, he'd held nothing but contempt for the bag of flesh, bone and lard lying on his side just a few feet from the pack. This only confirmed him in his views.
The various contracts, especially the one with his "'mother", made him want to really laugh out loud, from the top of the Tokyo Tower preferably while dangling Genma down from one hand, by the intestines.
Still, he contained the malice as well as he could. Sure, he could just off the bastard, but where would the fun in that be?
His attention turned outwards again, as he felt disturbances in his thinly stretched mist form. Three. Two humans, one other. Must be what he'd felt coming before. Interesting one, he had to admit. He'd seen some of this world's supernatural menagerie whilst in China, but this was somewhat different. Energy feeder, it looked like, with some power over minds. He felt the compulsion to sleep sweep over the compound, and take root in all of the members of the household, temporary or not.
The spirit outside was gaining strength rapidly. Even for a Revenant this was noteworthy. She had will, he had to admit. He would have said spirit, but he didn't care for bad puns right then.
Actually, had he know that this sort of being haunted the grounds, he'd have brought the girl home himself instead of putting a compulsion to get there herself, clean up and go to sleep into her mind. It would have made for a more interesting night, certainly. After a while, you needed some novelty in life or unlife. He guessed that for him that need came after less time than for others of his kind, but then again, that's the way he'd always been.
The two thugs, if he'd read them right from what he could tell of them in this form, were going upstairs now. Fairly skilled, he noted. He felt little air vibrations. Quiet, too. He'd have nodded if he'd still had a head.
Hmm. Now to liven things up a bit, he thought gleefully. Sending a mental command through the already flagging link he'd established through last night's feeding, he told the girl to wake up.
Then he went about pulling himself together to enjoy the show in a somewhat more active manner. After all, he had a sinking suspicion that the energy leech in the yard was here because of him. Sure, he could just let them do as they please, but again he was a creature of fancy, and he saw no fun if events should take that path.
Feeling the floor underneath his feet again, the white-haired vampire slid open the door, and slipped into the corridor, right behind the two thugs.
Yoshi's head rang from the impact, but the blow was ill-timed and not really that strong. It rattled him, but he'd been hit with worse. His hand lashed out, knocking the girl's weapon aside.
"Some 'asleep' this is," Kenshiro grumbled, already behind her, grabbing her wrists and pulling them behind her back.
"Bitch! You'll pay for that," Yoshi growled at their mark, and put his fist right into her solar plexus. Nabiki nearly folded, and would have had her hands not been restrained. He grabbed her chin roughly, pulling it upwards. "What the fuck is so damn special about you?"
She spat in his face, blood and saliva hitting him right smack in the eye. Then she kicked him in the groin. Yoshi's face twisted, and a moment later he fell to his knees, hands clutching his privates.
Kenshiro didn't waste his breath, simply moving one hand forward and putting his fingers around the girl's throat, pressing down just so
She squeaked in pain, and he stopped, keeping the grip tight enough to hurt but not tight enough to strangle or crush the windpipe.
Yoshi came up again, face purple with rage and pain, slamming a vicious backfist into her face. Blood flew as her skin broke along the cheek.
Nabiki was in considerable pain, both from the manhandling and from the blows. The bruises from last night weren't helping any either. The burly man hit her and she saw stars, sight dimming from the pain.
Under the pain though, she could feel something
Make it stop, please make it stop
Her eyesight swam slightly as tears started pouring from her eyes. The burly man hit her again, on the other side of her face, nearly making her black out. She felt hands reaching for her pajama top
"We don't have time for that Yoshi," the one holding her said.
"Screw that, I'm getting even with this little fuckwit. Let Ichi handle the crap 'o whatever's out there. He said he could."
"Yeah, well, I'm thinking — he said she'd be sleeping too. Was she?" the guy behind her was insistent. "We can have fun later. Right now I want to get the hell out of here and make sure we get the job done."
Nabiki's eyes went wide, and she would have cried in despair had the fingers not been so tight pressing down on her throat. Her eyes darted from one corner of the room to the other, seeking something while the two argued. Her gaze passed the doorway, coming to rest on gold.
I can make it stop. If you want me to.
Images of scarlet rain came to her, unbidden, at the whisper in her mind. It was enough to make her stop struggling and freeze, shaking slightly. Her captor noticed, and looked around.
"What the hell's she looking at? Ain't nothing there," she heard the man grumble. And yet, she could see the gold-flecked blue eyes, floating in a pool of shadows just inside her doorway.
Do you really want to throw your life away like this?
She shook her head, just the tiniest bit.
"Come on, we're going, Yoshi. I feel weird. There's something wrong here "
There's a price. Are you sure?
She felt her feet leave the ground, the pain in her limbs coming back with a vengeance, and knew that it was either that or Well, there was only one thing waiting for her at the end of the road she was on right now.
" yes " she croaked.
"Great, now she's talking to herself. Stupid little " the man shook his head in disgust.
She wasn't quite sure what happened next. She could see the eyes close, certainly, and suddenly there was a sound like air whooshing into place behind something moving at extreme speed. The grip on her arms tightened, making her give a whimper of pain, and then gave way as a loud sound of something breaking was heard.
Nabiki fell to the floor, managing to break her fall despite her mind's confused state, and turned her head.
He was standing there, in front of a huge hole in the wall where her window had been, backlit by the street and city lights. Long white hair in a thick braid that reached the small of his back, slitted eyes, blue with golden specks floating amongst the color. He gave a crooked smile, and she tried backing away as she took note of the well, there was no denying it the fangs.
A memory surfaced, and her hand shot upwards, regardless of pain, to the side of her neck. Wide-eyed she looked at him
"Nothing in life is without a price. You don't think this is a selfless gesture of good-will, do you?" he chuckled darkly. Whereupon he turned around and, still smiling, dove out the hole.
Nabiki stared after him for a moment, then tried to rise. She managed, shakily, after a few seconds' worth of effort, and unsteadily moved to the hole. She could hear something from below, buffeting wind and the swish of steel bracing a hand against the wall, leaning against it, she looked outside.
Apparently, the night had more surprises than what she'd already witnessed in store.
For a moment the girl stared, uncomprehending, then in a choked whisper she said a single word, as if trying to reassure herself as to what she was seeing.
Ichiro tore himself from the blade, thanking whoever it was that had been watching over him that it was just a steel blade, nothing more. He could detect some enchantment, yes, but nothing that could hurt him. He reeled around, lashing out with a coiled whip of energy, and the spirit he'd seen earlier jumped back with incredible swiftness. Holding the naginata.
His eyes were very wide at that point.
"Revenant," he muttered, then snapped back into focus. She was weakened, and wouldn't really be a problem if he fought smartly. He could see that she was barely able to hold up that naginata of hers.
The Revenant's eyes suddenly focused on something other than him, and for a moment he thought it was a trick but then remembered
He threw himself aside, tumbling. He felt a gust of wind, and something passing at immense speeds.
The Revenant moving that quickly he could understand. But this? Whatever it was, was obviously material, and to move that quickly .
"Nice," he heard, and his head turned to the speaker. A pale young man, white-haired and clad in black and burgundy, standing atop the compound wall. "You dodged. I'm impressed."
He was about to throw out a retort about not being flattered in the least by a human admitting to being impressed then he really looked at the kid. And almost swallowed his tongue. Whatever he was, it wasn't human. And it was powerful.
"But you're not really a challenge like that," continued the white haired thing. Ichiro refused to call that a man. There was nothing even remotely human about it, aside from the shell it wore. And its aura was just blank. A slab of obsidian, impenetrable. "Pity. I'm not stupid enough to let you become one, though."
Ichiro knew he could only hope to escape, and even that would be difficult. He tensed, jerked he felt the winds again, and desperately dodged away from them. There was a biting pain in his arm, blossoming outwards. He didn't dare look and lose concentration, but knew that he wouldn't have use of that arm until he regenerated it.
That was before he suddenly felt another pain, this time in his abdomen. He looked down to see a hand, the fingers clawed and actually tipped with talons, protruding from just below his ribcage. He only had time for one desperate jerk before he felt two fiery pinpricks erupt on his neck, and then
Energy. He could use it just as well as he could blood, though it hadn't been that way at the beginning. An invigorating wellspring, really. It had been quite a while since he'd had his fill like this. Before his leaving of Nosgoth actually. And it felt good beyond description.
He cast the already shriveling husk away, swiping his tongue around his lips to catch the last droplets of sustenance he'd taken from the creature. Said creature's corpse was already at the "dust" stage. Apparently the energy had been the only thing holding it together.
"Vampire," came a hushed whisper. His head turned, inclined upwards, to see a wide-eyed Nabiki. Her face bore an expression of pure fear.
Ranma's hand shot outwards, deflecting the blade of a naginata as it was about to go through his chest. He turned, and glared at the exhausted Revenant.
"Didn't we already go through this today?" He grimaced. "And look what it got you last time. Maybe I should do something to the place, if only to show you I don't really care squat. Now leave me alone and let me talk to my new servant."
"I swear to the Gods, if you do anything to her I'll " the wind sang venomously.
"What? You'll kill me? Been there, done that. Got the fangs to prove it," he snorted. "Now quit that, or I'll make it 'prospective thrall' instead of servant."
The white-haired vampire turned away, towards the house again, and leapt. Yeah, sure. So she was a protective parent. He had an agreement to call in here, but really, what did he have to do to convince her to stop attacking him?
Hell, if she'd just let him be the first time, he'd have taken care of the two hench-villains and drank the energy leech anyway, mostly because he considered the girl somewhat of a responsibility already anyway, and he didn't like others cutting in on his territory.
The short moment of reflection was interrupted — in mid-jump actually. Ranma's eyes went wide with surprise, and not a little anger as he felt magical energy discharge, and the Streaming device in his pocket lit up like a lamplight on a Christmas tree.
He was far from being a master at manipulating energy minutely, but he could tell a mana spike from an attack if and when he sensed it. This was one. He was airborne, with no way to really alter trajectory in any meaningful manner, the small hop being too short ranged to really be affected by any tries, what with the low speed and all.
Frankly, judging by the power of the incoming attack, it had a fair chance of hurting quite badly if it hit.
Ranma fell apart.
To be continued.
Author's notes: Cliffhanger? Rat-bastard? Moi? No, really? Heh. Deal with it. I was supposed to be doing something else, anyway. I don't think the readers mind, though. C&C is welcome. The usual firstname.lastname@example.org applies. Bye now.
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