InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Without Eyes ❯ New Sky ( Chapter 2 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

I have decided to stop posting all my IY-Blind entries as separate stories (even though they are).
"Two Tribes," "Captive Audience" and the first chapter of "Mountainside" were all first published for an Inuyasha fan community called IY_Blind. IY_Blind was founded by some fans who were frustrated by challenge communities where the voting tended to turn into popularity contests. This is why all IY_Blind entries are 100% anonymous until the winners are announced.
Every month there is a new challenge, and the winner gets to pick the next month's, so if you want me or any other IY_B writer to do your bidding, get over to !
(At this point you probably think that this is all a ploy to bring more contestants, voters, readers and spectators to IY_Blind, but this is not true. You can send me cookies as well!)
The October 2010 challenge was, "Show me Shippo all grown up."

Inuyasha and Shippo are the property of Rumiko Takahashi. Further disclaimers follow.

"I told you this was a good idea. Just look at that sky."

"I'm more concerned with what's under it, runt," Inuyasha grunted.

Shippo and Ken exchanged a knowing look. Grunting meant that the half-demon approved. Grunting and destroying the supply pod with Tessaiga? That meant disapproval.

And it was a good sky, because this had been a good idea. The dusty, tan-streaked blue stretched from horizon to wide horizon like something out of one of the Old West movies that they'd played back in the twentieth. To the northwest, a sharp, craggy set of hills stabbed at a set of dirty white clouds. The plant life might have been scanty, barely enough to support the scabby, government-issue cow herds, but even that just brought out the rough-edged brand-newness of this place.

Inuyasha sniffed heavily as he walked down the gangplank, which squealed in protest. Shippo winced. It was a good thing this place looked promising. There was no way this heap was up to a return trip. It was almost a crime the way speculators took these old ships, barely spaceworthy, and patched them up, packing them clear to the titanium rafters with passengers for a one-way journey the hell out of dodge.

They'd let the other passengers disembark first, in part to get some privacy but mostly to let the stink disperse a bit. Eighty men, women and children packed into a space designed for a crew of five and light cargo got a little ripe after a three-month trip, especially when the showers had been taken out to make more space for more fares.

Shippo closed his eyes. It wasn't Musashi, but then nothing was. Nothing ever would be again. He looked over his shoulder at Inuyasha. He half expected the grizzled old half-demon to say how fortunate it had been that she'd died long before seeing what her kind had done to the world she'd loved, but it had been years since he'd stopped saying it. "Would've broken her heart," he'd used to say. But not any more.

"We should send for the others right away, Inuyasha," Ken was saying. "The clan should not be separated this long."

"I will decide what is best for our clan, boy," answered Inuyasha. "And when we're alone, you are to call me 'Dad.' I don't care if you look older than me."

Ken rolled his eyes, just like he had when he'd been a teenaged warrior wannabe under Uncle Shippo's tutelage. That had been the high days of the Tokugawa. He'd learned enough to teach his yonger brothers their swordcraft—and a few kitsune tricks—just in time for the war to restore Emperor Meiji. The empire of the modern age, with its railroads and its dreams... That was when they'd all truly known that Kagome's magical homeland was really on its way.

But it hadn't only brought sweet snacks and wheeled machines. It had brought so much. And it had taken away even more. The humans had conquered the world and then kept conquering it. The scent of miasma was driven out by gasoline and nitrogen fertilizers. Little by little, the rolling forests chopped down for farms, the great, aching freedom of the wild spaces gone, gone and then more gone until the remaining demons were shoulder to shoulder, even allied tribes going for each other's throats for living space.

It took a strong leader to keep a clan together, focused.

There was a reason why a kitsune boy had never gone back to live with his own kind. There was affection, to be sure, and gratitude, but the bottom line was that Shippo had always had an eye for self-protection. Inuyasha had grown into a leader with Kagome by his side as they raised their horde of children. It had been their happy ending.

Only the story hadn't had the good grace to end. First Kaede, then Sango and Kagome and finally Miroku had succumbed to mortality. Inuyasha had not been destroyed. He'd had Ken and his other sons and daughters and—by then—his first two grandchildren, both Souta and Izayoi having married full-blooded inuyoukai. And he'd had Shippo.

Kouga's wolves had fallen to infighting, the wildness in their blood rising up and breaking out through their humanlike skins until they went for each other's throats. Shippo would have liked to think that the great wolf had lasted longer than most, but they'd found his den long empty, clawmarks worn smooth by years of rain.

The Birds of Paradise had abandoned their nests, soft feathers scattered to the wind.

Totosoi's forge had gone cold. There had been a set of oxen tracks headed north, but they'd never found him.

Jinenji, on the other hand... Shippo and Ken's sister Sango had seen his body, gelatinous and black as pitch, seeping away into the stream that ran down the mountain where he and his human mother had once lived. That stream had flooded, raging hard, every single year since, always leaving disease behind. The humans suffered through it. All the plants that could have cured them were dead.

Eventually, it had gotten too close for humans too, but rather than finally fight that nuclear war that had promised to save demonkind with its desolation and its bodycount, they'd simply built their great ships ...and left.

And every youkai with any sense had gone with them. The others...

Some demons had decided to stay on Earth once the humans packed up and moved out. The sun was still shining, they said, and the earth, the barren, brown earth might one day revive and grow tall plants again. The idea that youki essence could only be fed by the fear of a thinking being? A myth, a holdover from more barbarous times. The Dog Lord himself, the great leader Sesshoumaru, had ascribed to this belief. Shippo could see him now, withered Jaken at his side, great ruff over his shoulder as he watched his half-brother board a human ship with his followers. He'd called him a whipped dog, a prideless whelp.

The'd never heard from him again. There had been no messages from Earth-that Was, not by the essence or the signal.

Shippo held in a shudder. He didn't know for sure; he didn't want to.

The core planets had seemed like a good bet at first, they'd had the best terraforming, the most natural atmospheres and had imported the biggest number of plant and animal species from Earth, but a few decades on Xenon had made it clear that the super-regulated life of "true civilization" was no proper life for a kitsune and his clan of inuhanyou friends. A fox belonged out in the woods, regardless of whether those woods were made out of trees or five hundred acres of empty dust.

Inuyasha's boots crunched dry dust specked with gravel. Here and there some hardy weed waited for rain. He stopped, buckling his lip into the old-man scowl that had become his baseline expression.

"Dad?" asked Ken.

Shippo watched while Inuyasha removed his shoes, clicking ten clawed toes against the new earth. Slowly, he nodded.

"Good ground," he said. "I think we can stand it here."

Shippo smiled. "They say it gets better in time. They say that after a while, whole forests grow. Even if they don't, we'll still have that sky. No one can ever take that from us."

Inuyasha shot him a look with one hard amber eye. For a second, Shippo could see clear through to the soul that had lost more, in love and land, than any other being yet living.

"We'll see," muttered Inuyasha. "We'll see."
drf24 @ columbia . edu
(Firefly and its setting and characters were invented by Joss Whedon and his team.)