Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Absence ❯ Revelations ( Chapter 9 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Absence - By Kirika


This is the ninth chapter. For the person who mentioned the link Usagi has with her senshi, let's say Rei unconsciously severed all ties/bonds with Usagi with her last thought at the end of the second chapter, effectively 'dying'. Rei was pretty bummed out after all.



- Kirika


Chapter 9 - Revelations

Rodoth was sure he was finally nearing the end of the blood trail that had led him quite a distance away from the site of his ambush as a multi-storey building now stood before him. He would, no doubt, find the badly injured human female he sought... or her cooling corpse. The trail was hardly fresh at all now and broken in some places, but it had been enough for his acute sense of smell to easily trace. It had taken the youma a lot longer than he had thought, however. He didn't think a human could lose so much blood and still be alive, let alone still be able to keep moving for such a distance, but then, this female was no ordinary human.

Rodoth could hardly believe she had fought her way out of his trap. The youma he had chosen to 'greet' her, were some of Khairephon's greatest assault warriors. Of course, he had meticulously prepared for even that scenario... no matter how impossible it had seemed at the time. Rodoth was commander of Makareus' youma in this city for a reason. He had also ordered youma to watch a number of medical facilities in the event that the human escaped, with the hope that Khairephon's grunts would have at least wounded her severely during the springing of the trap.

Rodoth hadn't had many good tactical agents at his disposal to choose from for the stakeout job, however. Most of them were either already in the field, or still on the Pandemonium plane... so he had had to use youma with little practical experience in subterfuge. While it would have been better if the human had been ensnared, then killed swiftly and effortlessly at a hospital, Rodoth was confident that the female would soon die--if she hadn't already--if not by her wounds, then by him.

The only evidence of Rodoth's invisible, corporeal form was the dark shape of a shadow that could be seen conforming to the steps as he silently advanced up the staircase of the apartment building. He followed the increasingly noticeable stains of dark red blood, the droplets almost resembling liberally spilt burgundy coloured paint, then stopped at a door considerably marked with the dried fluid. His shadow slipped under the crack between the door and the carpeted floor and into the apartment. There was no one inside.

Rodoth allowed his body to manifest in the physical realm, suddenly appearing out of thin air as he returned to his solid form; a tall gangly being with fingernails like daggers. He looked around the single room, examining every detail... including the large oval bloodstain ingrained in the carpet fibres just in front of the door.

A white card also caught Rodoth's eye on a desk against the wall and he picked it up delicately between two stiletto fingernails for his perusal. It was a business card with the name 'Sanjuro Watanabe' printed in the centre, followed by several other facts about the human that didn't interest the youma. He already knew who 'Sanjuro Watanabe' was. The male was a reporter at the Yokohama Daily, and Santhesis already had that... situation... under control. Rodoth replaced the card on the desk, taking care to put it back in exactly the same position.

Rodoth slunk over to a wardrobe and pulled it open quietly. There was nothing of any real interest; only normal human clothes. He closed the wardrobe gently. The youma then picked up a framed photograph sitting on a small table next to the bed. He ran his fingernails down the picture, the sharp talons squeaking slightly along the glass, as he took note of the two humans in it. While it was a possibility that neither of the females in the photograph was the human he was looking for, both could be used against her. Rodoth had learned quickly that in this world, the beings cared too much for other members of their kind. It was a crippling weakness that the humans suffered in their hearts and a fact that was to his advantage. The youma returned the picture frame to its place on the bedside table and then looked around the small room one more time.

Rodoth was sure this area was the human's living quarters, but where was she? With such blood loss--especially with the amount gracing the floor of the room--she should be a carcass blocking the doorway. Perhaps the female was in another apartment of the building instead. Yes, that must be it. One of her kind must have helped her. Well, no matter. Along with the female he sought, that human too would die for their troubles.

As Rodoth resolved to check what was behind the other doors on this level of the building, he felt the first rays of sunlight strike him through the single window of the female's apartment. He had taken too long in his hunt; he had to return to headquarters before the sun grew too high in the sky. It was of no consequence, however. Rodoth knew where the human lived and could come at his leisure tonight to learn of her ultimate fate... or to orchestrate an unpleasant one of his own choosing for the female. But he would do it alone. He wouldn't trust the task to any of Khairephon's battle-loving youma, not after the poor showing they had displayed during the ambush. This assignment required a delicacy that only Rodoth himself possessed... he didn't need heavy-handed, hot-tempered youma botching things up again.

Rodoth re-entered his ethereal shadow state and left the apartment without a hint of noise, becoming a dark spectre evading the beams of sunlight. But that spectre would return very soon….


Rei tossed her head from left to right, trying to get rid of the tickling sensation on her face. Why was it that her sleep was always disturbed? And she had been having such a good dream too. Rei smiled luxuriously at its memory; it had been very... vivid. Flashes of blonde hair and silky smooth skin still skittered across her mind's eye even now. The miko then frowned, her eyes still closed, the remembrance of her enjoyable dream being dispelled from her thoughts. The tickling wouldn't go away. Rei began to raise her right hand to her face to bat whatever was causing the sensation away but then moaned in pain. Her eyes flicked open as she became aware that not only her arm, but also her whole body was wracked with a multiplicity of sore aches. It felt like a truck had hit her.

Rei's right shoulder throbbed... and her side... there was a sharp pain there whenever she moved even a fraction of an inch. There was also something cold and wet under her shoulder. The Fire Senshi turned her head to the right and saw that it was an icepack. Looking upwards, the tickling revealed itself to be displaced air caused by a lazily spinning ceiling fan above her.

Rei realised, now, that she lay in a single bed... but it wasn't the one in her apartment. Somewhat alarmed, she quickly took stock of her new surroundings, her lavender eyes darting all around the room. The place Rei was in was bigger than her own apartment, but it was still just one big room. In a corner to her left was a couch in front of a small television, and to her right, a desk with a computer and chair. A small kitchen was across from her, which looked well maintained. There was a dresser and wardrobe nearby the bed. The entire room looked very clean and tidy too... except for a pile of blood covered clothes on the floor next to the bed. Blood covered clothes. What happened the night before suddenly came rushing back to Rei.

Rei raised the bed covers and looked down at herself. She was in her underwear with an abundant amount of white bandages wrapped around her stomach and left thigh. The bandages around her stomach held a similarly coloured pad slightly stained with red to her wounded side. After seeing the extent of the damage her body had endured, the Fire Senshi let the covers drop and blinked up at the ceiling. Where was she? How did she get all bandaged up? Rei touched her forehead with her good arm and felt the rough texture of yet another bandage.

Rei tensed as the only door in the room to her left was opened. She relaxed when she saw Tsubasa walk in holding a paper bag in his arms. Now the miko remembered; Tsubasa had found her last night in her apartment. Rei had thought that had been a hallucination brought on by blood loss. She must be in his apartment. The brown haired man started, looking quite surprised to see her awake.

"I didn't think you would wake up for hours yet," Tsubasa said, closing the apartment door, "I was worried about leaving you alone, but I had to run down to the chemist to get more medical supplies." Tsubasa lifted the bag he carried for emphasis.

Rei merely looked at him as he walked over to her, her mind suddenly working overtime. How was she supposed to explain what happened? How was she going to explain how she ended up bleeding all over the floor of her apartment? Or why she hadn't wanted an ambulance?! Oh no, what if Tsubasa had called the police?! Rei gripped the bed sheets under the covers in two fists as she began to panic.

Tsubasa put the bag down on a bedside table, then pulled the desk chair next to the bed and sat on it. "So, how are you feeling? You've got your colour back," he said conversationally.

Rei blinked at him, her panic forgotten for a moment. "My colour?"

Tsubasa smiled a little. "Yeah, you were pretty pale. I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance to give you blood, no matter what you wanted."

Rei wracked her brain for a plausible explanation for what had happened as her alarm renewed itself inside of her. "Umm, about what h-happened and.… the 'no ambulance' thing..." Rei stuttered nervously, sinking a bit deeper in the bed, as if trying to hide beneath the blankets. "I was... umm... attacked, mugged... heh. I guess I should have just let them have my money... I didn't have much anyway... but I put up a fight, you see... and well... I uh... have a phobia of hospitals so... no ambulance..." Rei looked away from Tsubasa, hoping that the man would buy her lame account of the events leading up to their meeting last night.

Tsubasa sat and stared at the raven-haired girl for a second. "Mugged, huh," he then mused, "they certainly did a number on you…."

He apparently believed Rei's story, to which the miko was thankful. She quietly let out the breath she had been holding and relaxed.

"We should call the cops…." Tsubasa went on.

Rei looked sharply back at him, tensing up once more. "Ah, no, that's alright... you know the police never catch those guys," she said quickly, giving him a weak smile that she hoped appeared reassuring.

Tsubasa looked at Rei strangely. The miko started to think that he wasn't completely buying her tale after all. She swallowed apprehensively and tried to sit up. Rei winced as her stabbed side sent needles of pain straight to her brain.

Tsubasa put a light, restraining hand on her chest. "You shouldn't try to get up," he advised gently. "The stab in your side was pretty deep; you were lucky a kidney wasn't hit."

Rei continued to sit up anyway, disregarding her neighbour's suggestion. "I'll be fine, it doesn't hurt as badly anymore," she lied. In truth, after a day or two, it probably wouldn't hurt at all. Rei silently thanked her quick Sailor Senshi healing.

Tsubasa looked at Rei with a dubious expression, but took his hand away as she moved. He picked up the icepack that had fallen off of her shoulder and replaced it carefully.

Rei gave him a small smile of gratitude and pulled up the bed covers, keeping her semi-nude body concealed. Not that Tsubasa hadn't already seen it, she supposed. "I guess... you saved my life," she owned quietly, her eyes dropping to the bed sheets.

Tsubasa shrugged his shoulders and blushed slightly. "I'm just glad I remembered my first aid classes," he replied modestly.

Rei smiled and returned her gaze to the man. "Thanks anyway."

Tsubasa blushed more and quickly asked if she was hungry. When his neighbour nodded, he went into the kitchen to make a late breakfast.

The Senshi of Fire looked at Tsubasa's clock on one wall. It was just after eleven in the morning. She had been asleep for some time. The girl then glanced around the apartment again, her brow creasing in irritation. How come Tsubasa got such a big apartment and she had to live in a damned shoebox? Rei shook her head slightly to rid herself of such thoughts. She was just avoiding the current, more important, issue at hand.

The youma had laid a trap for her and almost killed her in it, and if that wasn't enough, they had even had the foresight to wait for her at the hospital. Someone with brains was obviously leading them... most likely, Khairephon. The main problem she now had, was deciding what the Senshi of Fire's next move would be. She still needed to find out where the youma were all coming from, and since these creatures seemed savvier than her normal enemy, she had to be especially careful if she were to go back into the Hikodo gangland.

Rei was brought out of her contemplation by Tsubasa's voice. "So... who's 'Usagi'?" he asked abruptly.

Rei was momentarily stunned. How did he know about Usagi?

Tsubasa walked over to the bewildered raven-haired girl with her breakfast on a tray. He placed it carefully on her lap, minding her gashed leg.

"Uh... who?" Rei said, stalling.

"Usagi. It's a girl's name, right? You called it out a few times while you were... unconscious," Tsubasa said. "Is she your sister or something?"

"My... sister?" Rei repeated, still a little caught off guard. "No, she's... she's my friend... my best friend…" she finished softly, dropping her gaze down to her breakfast.

"Oh. Maybe I can meet her sometime," Tsubasa said cheerfully.

"Yeah... maybe..." Rei said, subdued. She didn't like talking about this subject; she would much rather tuck into her breakfast. It was pretty good, but then, Tsubasa was an assistant chef.

Tsubasa sat in his chair and silently watched her eat.

After a few minutes of only hearing herself chew down her food, the man's constant scrutiny began to annoy Rei. "Shouldn't you be at work or something?" she remarked testily, flicking her eyes away from the breakfast to her neighbour.

"I called in sick; I had to take care of you, after all," grinned Tsubasa. "I called Anna Miller's too, so they know you won't be in today."

Rei nodded her thanks and continued eating.

Once his neighbour finished eating, Tsubasa pulled out a bottle of pills from the brown paper bag on the bedside table and proffered a couple to his 'patient'. "Here, take these. It'll help with the pain."

Rei did as he instructed, swallowing the pills down with what was left of her juice.

"You should go back to sleep; your body needs the rest," Tsubasa then suggested.

Rei agreed. She would have to recover as quickly as possible; she couldn't afford to let the youma gain an advantage in her absence off of the streets at night. Sleeping through the day should speed her healing process. "Right. Wake me up at about seven," Rei ordered, settling down into the bed, "...and thanks again... for everything."

Tsubasa nodded, smiling. "I should go finish cleaning the hall and stairs. You left quite a mess on your way home. I suppose we don't want people asking questions about why the place got such a haphazard coat of red paint sometime last night."

Rei made a sound in the affirmative, already half asleep. She hoped she could lapse back into that great dream again; it was a rare thing for her to dream about Usagi, her love. She was positive that the pleasurable images would help her wounds to heal faster, no.… she was absolutely certain of it... but if not, Rei could think of no better visions to accompany her slumber than those of her beautiful, angelic princess.…


Rodoth travelled literally like a shadow through the night. The sun had long since set and it was time to learn if the fire wielder yet lived. If so, he would put her out of her misery. While it would be good if the girl were already dead, Rodoth secretly held on to the hope that she was still alive and helpless due to her prior injuries. He would enjoy taking her soft body apart in a deliciously slow manner.

Rodoth arrived at the apartment building and slipped inside. He climbed up the stairs quietly to the human female's residence, noting that all of the bloodstains were gone. The youma sniffed the air; he could still detect the slight metallic smell of the human's blood, making the near invisible creature's mouth water. Rodoth's shadow slid under the door of the human's apartment. He looked around, but quickly realised that she hadn't returned there. Rodoth began to wonder if the female had caught wind of him and abandoned her home.

The creature hadn't bothered to materialise on the physical plane of reality, so when he pulled open her wardrobe, the doors seemed to open by themselves. All of the human's clothes were still there; they hadn't been disturbed since the last time he had seen them. The youma glanced behind him at the bedside table; the picture was still present too. It appeared that his enemy was still in the vicinity. Rodoth slipped back out into the hallway, deciding to check the next apartment. If he had to, he would search the whole building until he found his target. Judging by the blood loss she had sustained, the female couldn't be too far away, though.


Rei awakened all of a sudden, her instincts on high alert. Sitting up sharply in the bed on her elbows and ignoring her aches, she quickly looked around the apartment to check if anything was out of the ordinary. Tsubasa was sitting on the couch watching TV. A tall lamp beside him provided the only illumination in the room and surrounded both couch and television in its corona of light.

Tsubasa looked over at the edgy miko, startled by her abrupt awakening. "Megumi? What's the matter?" he asked anxiously.

Rei paid him no heed and continued to scan around the room carefully with wary eyes. Something wasn't right. She sat fully upright in the bed wincing and letting the covers fall from her body as she did so. Out of the corner of her eye, Rei saw Tsubasa redden and avert his gaze. Rei continued to ignore him, reaching out into the surroundings with her keen senses. It was as if there was a... presence besides Tsubasa in the dark apartment. She couldn't describe it; she just had an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Rei looked down at the floor in front of the bed and noticed that the shadow of a gnarled tree branch appeared just outside the edge of the lamplight. She then moved her gaze up to the door of the apartment, noting that it was still closed and appeared locked securely with a deadbolt. What was it that was disturbing her so much? Something wasn't-- wait, a tree branch? They were on the eighth floor of an apartment building!

Giving in to instinct, Rei swiftly rolled out of the bed just as the sheets erupted into an explosion of rags, something having suddenly torn them all to ribbons. The Fire Senshi landed heavily on her hands and knees, jarring her wounds painfully. She should have known; the presence she had sensed was a youma.

Tsubasa stood up, clearly wondering what in the hell was happening as Rei crawled quickly away from the bed while the remains of her covers floated gently to the floor about her.

"Run Tsubasa! Get out of here NOW!" Rei commanded in a yell from the floor.

Tsubasa looked at the scuttling raven-haired girl in shock. "What?! And leave you here? Not a chance!"

"You idiot, RUN!" Rei demanded even more forcefully.

However, Tsubasa stood his ground and shook his head stubbornly.

Rei scrambled to her feet and hurriedly moved next to Tsubasa before turning around to face the ravaged bed... but everything was now quiet. She couldn't detect any movement whatsoever, bar a few lingering shreds of fluttering cloth in the air landing on the bed.

Tsubasa positioned himself protectively in front of the underwear clad Senshi of Fire. "Stay behind me Megumi," he said, pushing the girl behind him carefully with one hand.

Rei growled in annoyance and shoved Tsubasa back onto his couch and out of the way before quickly returning her watchful gaze to the gloomy apartment. The miko caught the flicker of a shadowy movement again near the outskirts of the circle of lamplight she and Tsubasa were in. As she watched, she could see the dark shapes of claw-like hands pierce the light pool, and then pull back as if testing it. For exactly what, the Fire Senshi didn't know.

The next time the shadows appeared, Rei let out a cry and lashed out with a high kick using her good leg. She aimed where she assumed the invisible creature was standing, but struck only air. Before Rei could contemplate what had happened, four bloody lines were sliced across her extended leg. The miko hastily retracted her limb and edged closer to the lamp.

"Oh god, Megumi, stay back!" wailed Tsubasa at the sight of Rei's spilling blood, the brown-haired man still sitting on the couch where his neighbour had unceremoniously deposited him.

Rei glanced briefly at the bleeding gashes running along the side of her right calf and dismissed them from her mind as mere flesh wounds. She then looked over to the main light switch by the apartment door enclosed in darkness; the youma didn't seem to like light very much. If she could make it to the switch and flood the room with light, it might be possible to see the youma... then she could destroy it.

"Tsubasa... stay in the light," Rei instructed her neighbour in a serious tone of voice, while keeping her eyes focused on the border of lamplight, tracking the invisible youma's tentative probing.

Tsubasa directed a nervous look at Rei as he got up from the couch. "What are you going to do...?" he asked warily, approaching her.

Rei disregarded his inquiry and picked up the lamp stand instead. She began to cautiously move towards the light switch, using the lamp to keep herself in a constant circle of light. Tsubasa stuck close to the Fire Senshi, looking around the room fearfully as if every shadow might come alive and attack him. But who knows... perhaps they would. Rei wouldn't be surprised if the youma she faced had brought friends with similar capabilities to its own.

Rei had almost reached the light switch when she felt a sharp tug on the lamp cable. She looked behind her and saw the electrical cord floating in mid air while being pulled backwards. Tsubasa moaned despairingly at the sight. Rei yanked hard on the lamp she held, trying to break what was obviously the shadowy youma's grip. Suddenly the rubber insulation to the cable frayed, exposing the wire where it sported a series of deep slashes.

"Damn it, it's going to cut the cord!" Rei snarled through gritted teeth.

Rei quickly lunged straight at where she figured the youma should have been standing, causing the creature to drop the now ragged cord and blend into the darkness to become indistinguishable from the mundane shadows of the apartment. Rei came to a halt as soon as the lamp's cable became slack and Tsubasa, still beside her, did also.

"Well, this is getting us nowhere," an annoyed Rei commented.

The Senshi of Fire briefly considered transforming and using her powers to light the room, but firstly, she didn't want Tsubasa to see her transform, and secondly, she didn't want to burn down his apartment... or the building either.

"I've got an idea," Tsubasa said, the eagerness in his voice easily detectable, though tempered by a healthy dose of anxiety.

Rei merely looked at him in disbelief.

"I've got an idea," he then repeated, sincerity replacing his prior anxiety after noticing the raven-haired girl's sceptical expression.

Rei turned her gaze out into the darkness of the room, keeping careful watch, and then indicated that Tsubasa should whisper his idea in her ear. After hearing his plan, Rei said, "Okay... but I do your part."

Tsubasa opened his mouth to disagree, but saw the no-nonsense look the Fire Senshi was giving him and closed it reluctantly.

Rei handed Tsubasa the lamp, nodded gravely to him, and then made a mad dash for the light switch by the door.

Tsubasa swung the lamp in wild circles behind the running girl, almost smacking her in the back of the head as he kept pace. He didn't notice, however; he was too focused on spreading the appliance's illumination as far as he could to keep the light-fearing youma at bay. His neighbour was nearly at the switch when the room was suddenly plunged into darkness, save the dim light that emanated from the television screen. Tsubasa eyes dropped down to regard the end of the lamp's severed electrical cable and filled with dread.

"Uh..." he began, and then howled as his chest was sliced open, the wounds appearing out of the blue. He staggered backwards, clutching at the four lacerations and bumped against the wall, putting most of his weight against it.

Rei shut out her neighbour's pain-wracked cry and concentrated on making it to the light switch. If she didn't get more light into the apartment to disperse the shadows, the youma could take both Tsubasa *and* her apart at its leisure.

The Fire Senshi let out a surprised yelp as she felt something dry and rough grasp her ankle and wrench it backwards. Rei somehow retained her footing, and then tried to kick whatever it was off of her by shaking her leg frantically. She then screamed in agony as she felt four daggers puncture the back of her left leg. "I've already been stabbed!" Rei shrieked furiously, the pain fuelling her temper.

The shadow youma roared an unearthly cry and let go of Rei as the television fell on top of the creature screen first, the glow seeming to give its body a corporeal form. Tsubasa lowered his leg and stumbled unsteadily back a few steps, having kicked the heavy object off of the table it had been sitting on in an attempt to deter his neighbour's assailant.

"Go, Megumi!" he cried, with a hand still pressed to his injured chest.

Rei flicked the main light switch on, activating the ceiling's light globes and filling the room totally with bright light. She turned around swiftly to face the youma and saw the TV roll off of the invisible thing as it clambered to its feet. The miko's eyes narrowed as she finally saw the complete shape of the creature's shadow on the floor, recalling where she had last seen such a gangly, wasted silhouette. It looked like the bald youma's shadow she had seen last night in the Hikodo gangland! The sly bastard must have tailed her back to the apartment building.

Rei watched the shadow move into a fighting stance, its stiletto fingernails extended sinisterly. Blood dropped from the air where one of the youma's claws would be and spattered onto the floor. Tsubasa's and her own blood. So, it wanted to fight. So be it. Rei was itching to finally face this thing without the cover of darkness for it to hide in or to protect it from physical blows. The youma must have some nerve to confront her alone after what she had done to several of its friends.

Rei smirked and balled her fists tightly. Now she could hit it. This battle would bring a whole new meaning to the term 'shadow boxing'; it certainly would be an interesting way to fight. The Senshi of Fire entered a combat stance of her own, focusing hard on the youma's murky outline on the floor.

The youma screeched out an inhuman war cry and thrust with the sharp pointed fingernails of one hand at the raven-haired girl.

Rei nimbly ducked and delivered a punch to its stomach in retaliation, eliciting a grunt from her enemy. She then rolled to her left, cringing as she felt her old stab wound open a little and the warmth of fresh blood seep into the already stained dressings that covered it.

The youma whirled around, slashing at the air behind it as it did so with all of its natural daggers.

The Fire Senshi darted deftly backwards to avoid being eviscerated, then smoothly kicked her opponent right in the face, making the sinewy shadow on the apartment floor stumble backwards as its head snapped back with the blow. Ignoring the pain from her quadruple stab injuries and the blood that flowed down her left leg, Rei bounded forward to execute a crushing, flying kick to the youma's chest, leaving droplets of red fluid in the air behind her with the fast movement.

The shadow was launched backwards onto the kitchen counter, sending a shower of utensils careering in all directions. The youma then slid off of the countertop and fell to the linoleum-covered patch of floor on the opposite side, joining the stray utensils with a growl.

Rei took this opportunity to hurriedly hobble over to her soiled pile of clothes by the bed, and fished out an ofuda from one of her jacket pockets.

"Rin, pyou, tou, sha, kai, jin, retsu, sai, zen. Akuryou taisan!" she shouted as she saw the youma's shadow leap onto the kitchen counter and take a dive for her with the stilettoed fingers on both of its hands extended out in front of it. The miko threw the ward at the in-flight shadow youma's head, the adhering paper slapping against its face, seeming to float through the air. Rei stepped neatly aside as the youma crashed audibly to the floor behind her, paralysed by the ofuda's power.

Rei quickly struggled over to the kitchen counter and grabbed the biggest knife she could find, then staggered back to her fallen foe to exact some revenge for her similar treatment earlier from the creature. As she barked out a short shout of anger, she drove the knife's entire blade into where she thought the upper left side of the prone youma's back should be with both hands.

The youma growled hatefully as it writhed in torment on the floor--or as best as it could in its frozen state--its pinkish blood seeming to spill out of nowhere and pool into the empty air a few centimetres above the floor. Rei crouched beside her enemy and planted a knee on its back to limit its struggles while still holding on to the embedded knife. Good. The wound she had inflicted on the creature shouldn't be life threatening... well, at least not immediately life threatening. She ought to be able to get some information out of the monster before deciding to put an end to its suffering. Unlike her last youma captive, this one would die when *she* chose it to.

"Now, you had better start talking! Where are you all coming from?!" Rei demanded, "Where?!" she reiterated more forcefully. Rei felt the creature's body tremble violently, as if in an attempt to break free of the ofuda's divine hold, and cruelly twisted the kitchen knife in its back. "I said... TALK!" the miko screamed down at the seething youma.

The youma spluttered for a few seconds, trying to talk through the pain of the stab wound and the effects of the ward. "Gates... gates to our plane, our dimension…." it gasped.

"Gates? Where are these gates?!" Rei snarled.

The youma growled wrathfully again, its muscles tensing and relaxing beneath Rei's knee, to which she responded by viciously twisting the knife in its back a little more.

"Grrr! There's one... in a place here... called Chinatown..." the youma yielded.

"Where in Chinatown?!" the Fire Senshi persisted.

The gangly, still invisible, creature spat and drooled angrily, the clear fluid just appearing suddenly on the carpet. "Wong Fei's... a store..."

Rei smiled in triumph. She finally had something to go on now. Hopefully with this information to start from, she would eventually be led all the way to the location of the youma's leader, Khairephon. Then she could put an end to the threat to the people of Yokohama. The Senshi of Fire was going to burn every single one of these creatures until the city was free of them. This youma had better not be lying... but it didn't strike the miko that it was.

All of a sudden, the youma threw itself to its feet as its shadow moved likewise, the ofuda dissolving into scraps in mid air. Rei lost her grip on the knife and tumbled off of the monster's back, but ended up on her feet. The youma sliced backwards at her with its stiletto talons, forcing the miko to dodge to one side. The youma then sprang away from her and threw itself, knife and all, through the apartment's lone window.

Rei hurriedly limped over to the window's ledge in time to see sparks fly down the side of the building, no doubt from the youma using its claws to slow its descent. "SHIT!" Rei swore loudly, as it became horribly apparent that her adversary had escaped her.

"What?!" shouted Tsubasa anxiously, running over to Rei from where he had been watching her combat skills in awe. "Are you going to die or something?" He looked at his neighbour's blood stained body worriedly, scrutinising every dripping wound.

"No, that youma got away! It knows me! IT *KNOWS* ME!!" Rei shrieked at Tsubasa frantically.

Tsubasa stepped away from the girl, a little afraid. "So...?" he asked tentatively.

"'So?' 'So?' It knows what I look like and where I live!" Rei panicked. She had to get out of there *now*. Rei rushed over to the paper bag Tsubasa had brought earlier that day and upturned its contents onto the bedside table, searching for more bandages to staunch her injuries temporarily until she had enough time to do a proper job.

"You mean you're leaving?" Tsubasa queried incredulously while watching his neighbour's frenzied rummaging.

"Yes, you moron! That thing is going to come back here and bring a horde of creatures with it!" Rei yelled as she began wrapping a bandage tightly around her stabbed leg. She was certain that the youma, if it had any smarts at all, would be back as soon as it could with allies. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon how one looked at it, the Fire Senshi had gotten the impression that the creature had indeed possessed some intelligence.

Tsubasa seemed to digest her news for a moment. "More of those things... here? Oh crap! There's no way in hell I'm staying here, then! Where are we going to go, Megumi?!" Tsubasa wailed, beginning to reach Rei's level of panic.

Rei stopped tending her cuts and looked up at him. "What do you mean, 'we'?"

"Do you think I'm going to stay here if weird, invisible monsters are going to show up?! Look at me, I've already been hurt!" Tsubasa pointed to the collection of slashes on his chest meaningfully.

"Those are just flesh wounds, you wimp," Rei said, looking at his nicks. They wouldn't even scar; she was sure of it. "Just pack up your things and go stay in a hotel or something."

"Hell no! I'm staying with you! If one of those things were to find me, I'd just get scared and die! I don't know any martial arts!" Tsubasa argued.

Rei cursed under her breath. She didn't want to take care of Tsubasa; she had enough trouble just taking care of herself. But it was true that the youma now knew that Tsubasa was connected to her in some way and would most likely use that knowledge to its advantage somehow. Rei swore again and looked at Tsubasa. The man appeared ready to bolt in any direction she told him to. She sighed. Well, he did save her life... it looked like it was time to return the favour now.

"Fine, you're with me. Pack your things," the Fire Senshi ordered curtly.

Tsubasa eagerly bobbed his head repeatedly, and then ran over to the wardrobe to pull out his clothes. "Where are we going to go? A hotel? I don't have that much money, you know," Tsubasa said as he quickly packed a bag.

"I don't have much, either," Rei replied angrily as her temper flared. "You're supposed to be the hot shot chef!"

"*Assistant* chef," corrected Tsubasa, irritating the girl just a little more.

Where were they going to find a place to stay at such short notice? It was hard enough to find an apartment in Yokohama, and that went for hotel and motel rooms too. Not that Rei, nor apparently Tsubasa, had any money for anything but the cheapest of accommodations.

Rei finished her speedy ministrations to her throbbing wounds and ground her teeth, not because of her cuts... no matter how much they stung... but rather in annoyance at the situation.

"Don't just stand there, what are we going to do?!" Tsubasa yelled in earnest.

Rei blinked as a thought came to her. There was somebody in whom she could call... though she really, really hadn't wanted it to come to that. But what other choice did she have? She was bleeding everywhere, which was becoming a rather unpleasant--and not to mention painful--habit, and soon youma were going to be assaulting the apartment, possibly killing innocent tenants in the process. And if that wasn't enough, Tsubasa was annoying her. It didn't get any worse than this.

"I know of someone I can call," Rei said reluctantly, limping over to the door of Tsubasa's apartment. Now, where had she put that business card...?


To be continued.…

Author's ramblings:

Hmm. That went on longer than I thought. I guess I'm eager to get the other sailors into the mix.