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View Full Version : The Wingčd :[Book One]: The Kuraitenshi


Rebecca M. Renfield
March 1st, 2005, 08:56 PM
Rewriting a four-year-old piece of mine. Replies of any kind are cherished to the grave. :X

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This fiction is rated PG13-R for gore and medium-to-heavy violence.
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Chapter One: The Blood Is the Life

It was around noontime, and I was in my quarters, reading a few passages from my text and making some notes here and there. To say the field of genetics had always been a dream of mine was an understatement—I was obsessive. From the time I was old enough to speak, I was asking any question I could come up with about what comprised the very elements of life; from the time I was old enough to read and write, I dreamt of the age of the genetics wars that had taken place on my planet over five centuries ago; from the time I was old enough to enroll in classes, I had begged and persisted to be apprenticed to Sarina Kizuki, the greatest, and oldest, geneticist my world had ever known. I'd asked many questions, learned much, and gotten my way. Suffice it to say, I was spoiled rotten as a child. Not just that, but Sarina had taken a liking to me from the first time she'd met me.

The clatter of heels on hardwood floor forewarned me of her entry. 'Dear, you can have the lab this afternoon if you like. I just restocked, so everything should be fresh.'

I looked up from my book, my jade eyes full of dumbstricken gratitude. My mentor stood across the room from me, her eyes stern but gentle, her stance firm, and a small smile always trying to come out from that falsely-emotionless face. She was a beautiful woman, and brilliant at that. 'T—thank you...!' I could say nothing more, bowled over that she'd let me of all people have my way with her laboratory.

She smiled, walking over to where I sat in the armchair and began to play with my short, dark hair in a motherly manner, looking down at my literature to determine its author. 'Hm, Maruo,' she deduced after skimming a moment. 'What's got you hot into the subject of splicing this time?'

'Well,' I began, digging the crimson and silver Pokéball from my pocket. I pressed the release button to permit its captive to escape. The ameboid creature emerged and sat itself in the middle of my bed—if one could call it sitting, when one has no feet, legs, or any particular anatomy of which to speak—and seemed to stare at the two of us in silence for several minutes. I couldn't tell whether it was upset, confused, or hungry, but one thing was certain: it wanted attention, and it wanted it right then. It voiced its displeasure with a series of guttural noises, followed by a few shrill squeals, then began to wallow in my sheets as though throwing a temper tantrum.

'Oh, Ditto, don't act like that,' I whined, getting up and sitting beside it, stroking its suede-like tan skin to calm it down. I looked to Sarina, blindly petting it. 'I caught the little one Tuesday when I found out that you can manipulate a Ditto's genetics more easily than any other known species. I figured it would be a good basis for some testing.' I smiled, giggling at how cute its big, round eyes were.

'Suri, you should know better than to experiment with live subjects,' she chided. 'You're not experienced enough to compensate for neural damages it might do.'

'I know,' I admitted sheepishly, 'but how else am I to learn? I've been told that Ditto have little to no pain receptors, anyway. It's not like I'm going to hurt the little guy. Ow!' I jerked my hand up and looked at it in surprise. The thing had bitten me! Blood trickled down my fingers and I frowned, sticking them in my mouth to try to get the bleeding to stop.

Sarina's smile won the fight temporarily and curled up out of her face. 'It seems as though your captive thinks otherwise,' she began, amused. 'Dittos often bite. Don't let them drink too much, though. It makes them bloated and even fussier than they usually are.'

'Don't let them—what?!' I glared at her in denial. 'You're not telling me that this little guy drinks blood!'

She chuckled. 'I'm not telling you that. The Ditto is.' She stood again, and walked out. As she turned the corner, she looked back at me. 'You'd best get cracking if you're going to play with your little pet, m'dear. I don't let anyone in my lab past dark, not even my students.'

I nodded. 'Understood. I'll be there as soon as I get myself together.'

'I've used Ditto for several experiments before, if it's anything to you,' she interjected. 'There's a few bloodbags in refrigerator C if your patient decides it won't behave until it's fed.'

'....Thanks.'

~*~*~

"I swear, Tsume, the thing bit my finger! I don't understand it!" Sitting at the computer desk in the laboratory, I began to lament over the captive shapeshifter in the ball before me. I was beside myself.

The albino arched a pierced eyebrow. "How could a little slime creature bite? It doesn't even have teeth."

"I don't know. I guess it's no matter—an experiment's personality has little bearing on how its body shapes up."

"You sure about that? From how you described that thing," — he pointed at the ball — "you'd think that making it less capable of doing whatever it wants would make it fussier...."

"Perhaps...." I thought back to what Sabrina had said to me before she'd left this afternoon, and got up and walked over to refrigerator C. Sure enough, there were three bags of medical blood laying on one shelf of the fridge. Shivering slightly at the thought, I pulled one out and closed the door. I had to figure out how the Ditto had bitten me. "Let it out for me."

"Wh—is that blood?" He seemed disgusted by it. "Dittos don't bleed. They don't have a circulatory system. Why do you need that?"

"I'll show you. Let it out."

He anxiously complied with my request, and, like before, the creature emerged, fussy as ever, and planted itself on a nearby counter, whining at me. It then saw what I held in my hands and shut up, staring at me. "Good Ditto. You want this... don't you...?" I approached it slowly, as not to excite it too much. "I'll give you some if you won't misbehave... okay...?"

It gave a flat "Dit" in an attempt to skip formalities and jump straight to the main course, straining to stay put while trying to stretch nearer to me. But it knew it wouldn't get fed if it moved.

I sighed, holding the bag about a foot out in front of the thing. "Go ahead, little one. Just don't make a mess...."

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Tsume queried.

"Shh."

It leapt upon the bag as though trying to suffocate it with its own body, as though it were its prey. Almost instantly the sound of puncture was heard, and the Ditto's body began to ripple as it siphoned the blood out of the bag. Again I shuddered, taken aback at how hungry it was. Within minutes it relinquished its lifegrip on the bag and let it go, the empty plastic falling from its face. However, the blood—and drool—trickled from its eyes down its face, not the slit through which it breathed. I could do nothing but stare at it as it purred and curled up on top of its victim's "cadaver," taking a short nap.

I twitched. "I—"

"I don't believe it," he uttered, in similar dismay. His blond-highlighted white hair stood on end when he came upon a similar revelation to mine. "That thing sucked the bag dry with its eyes!"

"....I feel faint...." Tsume took action as though second nature and maneuvered the desk chair behind me such that I fell back into it. "I—thanks...." My attention had not wandered from the creature. "I can't believe it. That thing bit me because it was hungry of all things—!"

"I knew it was a bad idea to give it that bag of blood," he worried, massaging the stress out of my shoulders from over the back of the chair.

"I had to know, though! I had to know what Sabrina'd meant by not feeding it too much! She was amused by it, for the love of Mew! She laughed when she saw it had bitten me!"

He made a face. "She's probably experienced the same thing before, and it did her heart good to see a green scientist happen upon the same mistake."

"Some sadistic woman she is, if you're right," I muttered, making a face. After a moment of silence I sighed. "I can't work like this. I have to apologise to her and tell her I didn't get anything done today."

"I could tell her if you like."

"Thanks, but it would be best if I did. If you'll give me about fifteen or thirty minutes we can go out for a bit. I just need to be back on grounds before dark."

"'Kay. Want me to put the little vampire back in its ball?"

"If you would. I'll only be a bit." I got up when I felt I could stand, and walked out of the lab. I had a long road ahead of me if I was going to accomplish what I had set out to do, and this was only just the first of many enormous steps.

~*~*~

Though most wouldn't know at first glance, I'm not what I seem to be, and neither is Sabrina. We are of a race called the Tenshi, of Hanehasu, a planet not as far away as one may think, but small and easily forgotten to those who have never been there—it's a matter of secrecy and diplomacy that anyone who gets a passport off Hanehasu has splicing done such that they can take on the form of the species with which they'll reside once off the planet (many races have issues with the thought that they aren't the only ones in the universe). Aside from cosmetic differences, there is little comparison between us and humanity. Our skin is powder blue, similar to scales, and our eyes and hair have a more brilliant variety of colours than humans do. We have a different tongue, of course, and our customs vary in more places than one. Our internal anatomy is probably intrinsically the same as well, albeit that our bodies last roughly six times longer than the average human's—it makes it difficult to blend into human society without questions raised about longetivity. It's one reason Kizuki-sama altered her name—she can kill off her human alias at any time should she grow bored with it. There are other reasons for it, but it's a sensitive matter.

Tsume had been reviewed by one of Sarina's aides and nonceremoniously dumped on me as an aide of my own. He'd only helped me a few times since he'd been hired onto the staff there, and I don't know much about him. I'd hoped that going out for the evening would give us some bonding time, since we hadn't gotten much of a chance otherwise to get to know one another, and since we'd need to know each other's strong points if we were going to work on anything serious together.

I figured he wasn't of Tenshi birth, since most Tenshi would have known immediately that Sabrina is really Sarina, and would have likely picked up on any of the conversations of ours he'd overheard if he knew any Tenshi. Thus, if he wasn't Tenshi, then he likely was probably in his early twenties, and of the typical class standing that he was just out of school and in dire need of a way to pay the bills. Of course, I mentioned earlier that he's an albino. Albinism—lack of pigmentation in the skin and hair—is a rare genetic glitch, and unheard of on Hanehasu. I remember how awkward it had been when we'd met the first time and I had to ask him in order to silence my insanely overwhelming curiousity. He still doesn't think I'm normal because I had to ask him what his condition was called.... I'd never seen one before. It's not my fault, is it?

We'd decided, after a short walk through downtown Lavender, that we'd duck into a Gavrelli's for dinner. We got a two-seat table by the window, where there was a wonderful second-story view of the town below.

I looked up from my salad. "Why'd you dye your hair?"

"Hm?" he murmured, mouth full.

"Why'd you dye your hair blond? You only dyed parts of it, even."

He set his fork down after swallowing the cherry tomatoe, and formed a response after a moment's thought. "I guess I'm in denial. It's a way to pretend I'm normal."

"Then why didn't you dye all of it? I'm sorry if I sound like a little kid, but you know my insatiable curiousity."

"I can't forget that I'm different, Suri. If I do, I'll forget who I am."

"Isn't that a bit... shallow, though?" I blushed at the accusation I'd just made, but continued without hesitation. "You are more than just different from everyone else. You're you, and there's more to you than just being an albino."

"....Wow. I thought you were a hopeless airhead, but that is the single most profound thing anyone's ever said to me."

I was stunned. Me? An airhead? Hardly! I gawked at him, slightly put off. "I... what made you think I'm such an airhead?"

He chuckled, then started counting on his fingers. "You ask lots of questions that have simple answers. You often act immaturely. You always have to get your way, or you don't let anyone else get theirs. And you have that airheaded cuteness about you."

He grinned as he enumerated the last of these. I blushed again, looking down at my salad, then giggled nervously, but said nothing, unable to form anything coherent in response. Then the waitress took us by surprise, setting our food on the table and leaving us with an awkward silence what was cured only by means of dinner.

==Author's notes for Chapter One:

"The Blood Is the Life" is a biblical line from Abraham Stoker's Dracula, as per the equally biblical character, R. M. Renfield (;)). It's an invocation of similar emotion that one would feel towards Renfield (e.g., zoophagous, bipolar asylum patient with countless mania; very unpredictable; when most calm, he speaks in riddles, while when roused, he says nothing at all). He is the mortal tie of continuity in Dracula—the element that allows the mortals to understand the very being that is Dracula.

The most vital parallel of any of them is the infamous "food chain". Renfield first compulsively collects flies, luring them with sugar. Whilst snacking on a few of his captives, he uses them as bait to capture spiders. The order trails up to sparrows, when Renfield implores of his dear Doctor Seward to permit him a cat (even a small cat will do). Seward has been fascinated with Renfield from the start, and almost falls to the temptation; but, he denies his patient the privilege. That night the orderlies inform Seward that Renfield's been vomiting beaks and talons and feathers. (Just a taste of what's to come involving the Ditto, loves.)

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 2nd, 2005, 10:38 PM
Chapter Two: Coma White

We stayed out rather late talking and chatting. Tsume and I really got to bond that night, and it felt good to know that I'd obtained a relationship with a human so early on in my attempts. I mean, I'd been on Gaia for over a century now, but I'd been too absorbed in learning about their culture and studying genetics. I'd had a relationship with a human when I'd first come to Gaia, and how quickly it had terminated forced me back into general misanthropy.

"So you wouldn't want to come back to my place tonight?" Tsume began as we walked back up to Lavender City Gym. "I've got a huge TV," he grinned.

I smiled nervously. "Ah, I'd love to," I lied, trying not to hurt his feelings, "but I need to talk to Sabrina about what happened. I only told her earlier that I hadn't gotten anything done."

He seemed disappointed. "Oh... okay.... I guess I'll see you again, then, sometime...." He sighed and started to walk off. "Goodnight...."

It hurt me to see that he was so lonely, but I couldn't help it. Sarina was my mentor, and I couldn't just leave her hanging. I could spend more time with Tsume another time.

I looked for Sarina everywhere, and she could not be found. I approached her laboratory and heard two voices—one hers, the other belonging to a woman. They were speaking English...? I listened in on the conversation, but did not open the door.

"From what I can tell, the genetic pattern's stable now," Sarina informed. "There were a few strands that haven't merged yet, as you can see here... and here.... But he'll be fine. He just needs to relax."

"He hasn't been able to relax since his brother attacked him," the woman complained. "He's spent every waking moment in a cell at the asylum—he didn't even bother with the necessary formalities—and he just lays there, taking up space! People ask awkward questions. They have to know why he doesn't wear a uniform like the others. They have to know why he's sometimes not there. And they wonder why patients turn up missing from time to time. I can't take it anymore. I need your help, Sarina. He needs your help."

I heard her computer chair creak from release of weight, followed by the sound of four feet shuffling about the room. Sarina sighed. "Dear, you know psychology's not my strong point. It's yours. Don't you know what's wrong with him?"

"He lost his sense of reality," she began. "And I don't know how to give it back."

".... You apparently don't know your husband very well, do you, dear? He's not had a sense of reality since I met him a hundred years ago. ....A century. Gods, that makes me sound so old...." She giggled slightly, then sighed again. "Fine, I'll talk to him, if it will make you feel better. Let me get sedatives though, in case he decides he's still got a taste for Tenshi blood...." Though the woman made no sound, I knew by the silence that she'd grimaced at the slash.

Not moments after the shuffling of glass and metal had ceased did I know that the two of them had gone. I entered cautiously, opening the white metal door slowly and poking my head in to make sure that they really had left, and then closed the door behind me with equal caution. Sarina had not shut down the computer, and the DNA pattern they'd been talking about was still loaded and projected on the screen. I sat at the computer in awe as I began to stare at the information paired with the computer-generated image.

'This can't be right...' I uttered in a cold sweat. 'I just must not know what I'm looking at...! There are over two hundred splices to this genome...! What in the world is this?! It can't be human! What's the base strand?' I demanded of myself, looking through the file in heated pursuit of answers. When I found the answer, it took me several minutes to form the words. 'It... it can't be human...!' I stared at the computer in total shock for several minutes before so much as taking an actual breath, let alone moving at all. 'How could it be human? How!? Humans are so touchy around the topic of altering themselves genetically! And the centrioles on this genome have been warped so much from all the splices that I can't tell how old this guy is, either.... Gods, who IS this guy!?' I huffed in frustrated denial, trying to understand. It was too much for me, and I began to massage my temples, a migraine setting in.

"Suri...?"

I freaked at hearing Tsume's voice and instantly shifted human again. I nervously turned around to find him standing there, pale and confused. "H—hi."

"I thought Sabrina didn't let people into her lab alone past dark," he began, judgmental.

"Well, she's not here, and she left something open that I was curious about."

"Curious about it? You sounded like you'd gone insane over it!" He walked over and looked at it, arching an eyebrow. "What the heck are all these little scribbles? Shorthand or something?"

I laughed, highly anxious. "Y—yeah! Shorthand. Sabrina likes to be able to read large amounts of text in a short amount of time."

He bought it, but only long enough to keep me pinned. ".... Ah. And what was all that stuff you were spouting off?" He stared at the screen, not at me. "It sounded like cursing, but I've never heard anything quite like it."

"Heh... it's complicated...." I blushed, embarrassed deeply, turning away from him.

"Try me."

".... I really don't know how you're going to react...."

"Well, you won't know unless you tell me. What, you're an alien or something?"

I was floored. I turned around, letting the façade fail me, and looked at him with gravity in my jade green eyes. "Whoever said being frank had faults?"

~*~*~

".... Wow." He stared at me in shock for several minutes, then his eye twitched. "Th—that's not shorthand... is it...?"

"No." I smiled slightly. "I'm sorry you found out like this.... I didn't want anyone to know...."

"It... it's fine.... I mean, it's not like you eat people or anything. .... Right?"

I laughed, frowning. "No, silly. We're basically the same as humans, I suppose."

".... Ah." He changed the subject and looked at the screen again. "What the heck has you so freaked out about these scribbles? I can't read that, and just because I'm hired to help you doesn't mean I know the first thing about genetics."

"That... that strand has over two hundred splices made to it.... Sabrina was looking at it and talking to some woman just before she left with her. From the sound of it, and from what I can tell, the genome belongs to what was once a human."

".... What?" All blood rushed from his face in confusion and subconscious fright. "That doesn't sound like it could even be human anymore. Two hundred different strands of DNA all in one body? What a freak of nature!"

"You're telling me. You know my curiousity. I have to know who it is. It's going to drive me nuts until I do."

He laughed. "Okay, there's no doubt in my mind now that you're the airheaded Suri that I know."

I made a face and looked at him, unamused and ears flat against my head. "Not funny."

~*~*~

Try as I might, I couldn't sleep after witnessing such a horrific thing. Whenever I dropped off, nightmares about that genetic beast awoke me again in an instant. I ended up reading to try getting my mind off of it, but I was too frazzled, and soon dropped off again, too tired to fight it anymore.

I woke up around noon to find Sarina sitting at my desk, mulling over one of my textbooks boredly. 'Good, you're awake. I noticed you listened in on my conversation last night.'

I flustered, blushing. 'Gomen ne, Kizuki-sama. I was trying to find you to talk to you, and you know how hard it is for me not to eavesdrop.'

She smiled. 'It's fine. I figured that it had you spooked, considering that the file you saw didn't contain any patient information.'

'Patient? You mean he's one of your pedaishi?' The thought had me dearly spooked.

'It's too complicated simply to say no, but I can say yes, because I've helped him with his genetic disorder in the past.'

'Genetic disorder...? Did something happen to him because he had too many strands or something?'

'Heh, nono. Though, someone took advantage of his collection and spiked his blood with an ourei virus. I altered the virus's pattern so it merged all the strands in a smooth fashion rather than stuffing them in a preverbial melting pot and cooking them down, if you know what I mean.'

'An... ourei virus...? That's why all the strands were meshed together!' I'd read somewhere about the man-made virus, and how it forced all strands, like Sarina had said, to become a single strand. It was known to be fatal due to its harsh nature, but if she'd tamed the virus so that it would alter instead of devour the genetics, there's no telling how potent the strengths of the strands were. 'With all of them on the same pattern... are they all dominant?'

She shook her head. 'He's been used to shifting in and out of genomic patterns since he was nine years old, dear.'

I twitched. 'S—since he was nine!? Okay, last night I knew that I wouldn't be able to rest until I laid eyes upon him, but now I can't stand another minute!"

She lost all humour and looked at me seriously then. 'Don't let your impulse get the best of you dear. He's unstable—crazy. While he may look tame most of the time, he could snap out of the stupor at the drop of a pin.'

'I heard that lady, though. He's in an asylum cell!'

'My dear Suri, you should know better than to be in such denial. He's got enough genetics to be able to be wherever he wants. Barriers mean nothing to him.' She melted after a moment. 'If you must—and I know you must—I insist that I go with you. I've dealt with him in his derangement before, and he recognises me as an authority figure. Though it's not much insurance that he won't attack me or you unprompted, it's better than none at all.'

~*~*~

Sarina teleported the two of us to Ecruteak, where the asylum sat atop a hill. I shivered at the thought, but followed Sarina as she walked up the steps to the front door. As the two of us entered, the cold air within made me freeze up completely, quivering at the sound of pure silence. A sudden, seemingly unprompted scream resounded through the place and I jumped out of my skin. Sarina was unfazed, chuckling quietly at how frightened I was.

We walked forward down the main hall a few quarters, and turned into an office, where a brunette woman was shuffling through papers in seeming dismay. She, like Sarina, was unfazed by the inhabitants of the place. By this I knew she was the curator, and, thus, the woman with whom Sarina had talked the night before.

She looked up, uninterested, and continued digging through the many piles of papers on her desk. "Hn, you came back. You found something, or just decided to have a field trip?" She was hinting towards my presence.

She coughed, put off by the cold shoulder the woman had given her. "Maki, dear, she's a student of mine, and I think it would be good for her to see what the virus can do when abused."

"So Keiji's just some sort of experiment to you? Is that it? Whatever. He doesn't respond to anyone but you anymore, anyway. He just talks to himself. A lot." She grumbled a minute before shooing us with a disdainful hand motion. "Go on. I'm busy." She failed to respond to any further conversation at that point, having found the papers she had wanted.

Turning back out of the curator's office, I asked Sarina, "Should I start to worry now?"

She nodded, but said nothing, as we came to a cell in the middle of a quarter, somewhere in the West Wing of the building. She looked in through the grated window to see whether the patient was conscious, and sighed, anxious. "Keiji...?"

"Hnn, what?"

I tried to look in through the window, but Sarina held a hand up to keep me back. "I brought a girl with me who wanted to meet you. Do you feel like talking to her?"

"Why? So we can feel worse?"

"That's not an attitude to have, dear...!" she whined, trying to be supportive. "This girl just wants to know about you. She doesn't want to hurt you."

This pitiful man didn't sound so violent and psychotic as Sarina and the curator had made him out to be.... I started to lose interest, but Sarina made motion with her hand that I would come up to the door. He was blond, and was clad in a white button-down shirt and black pants, sitting up against the far wall with his hair in his face and one arm propped up on one knee. He looked up at me with emerald green eyes when he sensed I was there, and suddenly mellowed to the thought of a visitor.

"What do you want?" he began, unamused.

"I..." I tried to think of what to say, "... I just wanted to meet you, that's all...."

"Why?" He was growing impatient, and seemed like some internal pain intensified with every moment I stood there.

"I—I couldn't believe just how many strands you have.... It's quite a feat that you've collected so many...." Yes, I was hoping flattery would open him up and make him calm down.

Something broke in his head and he looked at me dumbly. "Sarina showed you what my blood looks like...?"

I nodded slightly. "I saw it last night, when Sarina came to see you."

He smiled faintly. "You know her as Sarina. You're Tenshi... aren't you? Yes, I can smell it.... Hn."

I shivered slightly at the thought that he could smell me from ten feet away, but didn't back down. I figured it was just the good senses of one of the strands he had—or several, perhaps. "I—I wanted to know... what it's like to have that many strands.... I only have one or two, aside from my natural DNA, and can't possibly imagine it...."

That pained look in his face had stopped when he realised that I wasn't there to interrogate or berate him, but from there it had again begun to surmount. "....It's a lot easier to shift multiple strands into dominance the way Sarina arranged them.... I... I can make my body pretty much however I want it to be.... Wings, extra arms and legs, you name it...." He didn't seem very amused by the conversation at all, and his head began to droop. He twitched and made a guttural, choking sound after a moment. His face again hidden in his golden hair, he began to creep up the wall slowly, grasping at the padding with his hands and shoving himself inch by inch upward by his feet. "Shut up!" he shouted in anguish. "She's nice. She likes me! .... NO! .... Why can't you stand it when someone likes me for who I am!?" He grappled at his hair and tugged at it in agony.

I began to grow nervous at the conversation he was having with a voice in his head, and wanted to back away more than anything, but could not, frozen in shock.

He fell motionless once he'd trailed up the wall enough to stand most of the way. ".... I said shut up...!" he cried. ".... I DON'T CARE!!"

"Suri..." Sarina worried, her voice cracking as she inched her hand nearer to me to pull me back. She failed to grab hold of me, however, frozen in similar fashion, equally enthralled and frightened at how Keiji was acting.

Faster than I could see him move, he flew upon the door, his hair now long and black, in rich curls, his complexion morbidly pale, and his eyes gold and full of lustful hunger, fingers wrapped around the bars of the window. Because they were right in front of me, I could see his nails were long and clawlike.

His sudden movement startled me, but still I remained near to the door.

He grinned at me painfully, such that I saw he now had long, wicked fangs, and he reached out to me and caressed my cheek with the palm of his left hand. "I... I haven't eaten in so long.... You have to understand... your presence is such a tease...." His hand wandered down to my neck and Sarina snapped to attention, flinging me away from his reach. He hissed at her, but she didn't falter.

"You know better than to try something like that, Takeru," she growled.

He arched an eyebrow at her, unamused. "Don't make it harder on me than it already is, you little freak. You of all people should know what your kind's scent does to me."

She flung her hair back behind her shoulders and grabbed his hands with hers, guiding them to rest on her neck. "I didn't mean to irritate you," she apologised, complete falsity in her words. "I know you haven't had any of it for a while. It's not commonplace anymore, now, is it...?"

He snorted. "No, I suppose not," he mused, interested in her actions. "You were the only Tenshi on Gaia I knew of until today...." He began to make his hands rest in a more comfortable fashion, grinning again. "May I, then?"

"I know you want it."

"I just had to ask, Kizuki-chan." With that, he moved to strangle her, and she let out a short cry before falling silent, struggling only enough to let him know she wasn't just some toy dangling in his arms. I looked on in total horror as she got choked to death, the beast simply standing there and moaning in ecstasy of the act.

A few minutes later he got bored and tossed her down, licking his palms and fingers clean with a pointed relish, leaning on the door and watching her out of the corner of his eye.

She got up after a minute, her neck covered in blood, and she glared at him in disgust. "Ousubuta," she spat, dusting herself off. "If you keep treating me like the body's just a wrapper to be tossed down I'll quit giving it to you willingly."

"Ooh," he murmured, intrigued. "You know I like prey that fights back," he cooed, wagging his tongue at her derisively. He shot a look at me and bit his lip, chuckling. "All that and just to keep me from killing a little hundred-year-old Tenshi.... You'll always confuse me, Kizuki-chan...."

"As will you, me, dear." She grabbed me and teleported us away from the place in haste.

Once sitting back in temporary relief in the sanctuary of Sarina's estate, the two of us both sighed. I gawked at her neck after a minute, seeing several dozen oozing stigmata on either side. She noticed my incoherent dismay and made a face. "I told you I've dealt with Dittos before."

==Author's notes for Chapter Three:

"Coma White" is a Marilyn Manson song. The refrain is the allusion: "A pill to make you numb // A pill to make you dumb // A pill to make you anybody else // But all the drugs in this world won't save her from herself." Takeru is in denial over Keiji's current mental incapacity, and the futility in Manson's song fits perfectly. It also references Keiji's future addiction to sedatives (which will keep Takeru passive and repressed).

The line "You were from a perfect world that threw me away (today)" also references the (eight-book long) prequel from which Keiji was dredged up. In Chapter Six, you'll get a glimpse of exactly what it means (though you'd have to read the entire length of RoseIII to see Takeru in full light).

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 4th, 2005, 10:52 PM
Chapter Three: A Square Meal

'Y—how did he do that!? He strangled you with his hands!'

Sarina ran her hands stressfully through her long, lavender hair, throwing her head back over the armchair's back, then sighed. 'You weren't listening to him when he told you that he could have any body part at any place on his body, were you? He's got a twisted sense of pleasure. The only thing that excites him more than having Ditto's eyes in his hands is using them."

I shuddered, realising that the stigma on her neck seemed rather palmlike in pattern. 'That's just disturbing. I didn't think people like him existed anymore!'

'"People like him" never died away,' a male muttered, wandering into the study. He haughtily tossed his dark blue hair as he entered. Sarina's younger brother at me boredly, and those lime green eyes of his bore into me, causing me to blush deeply. 'You don't think that the Kurai and Shiro are out there anymore, do you?'

'N—it's not that, James,' I stammered, looking away from him. 'I'm just in denial, I suppose....'

'Denial with due cause,' Sarina interjected, unamused by her brother's sudden interest in his eavesdropped conversation. 'Though, I must tell you that I know Takeru has a Kurai strand.'

'Did I just hear you right?' he uttered, looking to her with arms crossed over his chest. 'How does that human wannabe-tencol have a Kurai strand!?'

'Long story short, Takeru was victim to a slipstream. He got it from Takunei when he was only a teenager.'

This made James swoon—it was too much for him. 'D—he actually came into contact with that beast!?'

'A slipstream...?' I uttered in awe. 'Those are so incredibly rare. I've heard that the only thing that can create stable slipstreams is the Celebi....'

'You're more intelligent than you look, Suri,' he muttered, temporarily feigning interest in my trivial knowledge.

I snorted in anger and frustration, balling my fists at my sides, but said and did nothing.

'I've talked to Takeru several times in the past century, and he says that his son brought the three of them through the stream, if I remember correctly. How that boy got a hold of a Celebi strand is beyond me, let alone how he made a stable stream...!'

The conversation grew stale and James coughed, trying to change the subject. 'Sari-chan, I know you have some reason or another for having brought up that disgusting human.'

She lifted her hair and his face went pale. The wounds were healing naturally due to her Tenshi immune system, though it was a slow process since the damage had been done when she was in an alter form. 'Suri wanted to meet the Takeru, and I catered to the whim. I didn't see much harm in visiting an asylum patient.'

'.... The tencol's in a ward? Bloody hell!?'

'His wife's told me that his brother attacked him—something happened in the assault that made him schizophrenic. The alter personality in his head is his Kurai strand, and, as you can see, the Kuraru was *more* than happy to see me.'

'Wait, that's why he was—gods, I'm dense,' I moaned, smushing my face into my palm in self-disgust. 'No wonder he seemed so broken and beaten one minute and cold and wicked the next!'

'He's always been schizophrenic over it, dear. He checked himself into the asylum because his other self is having particular difficulty coping with whatever Rukuru did to him.'

'Why do we care about him at all?' James whined. He received in response a pair of acidic female glares. He grinned nervously. 'Okay, fine. Don't let me gossipmonger!' He stuck his hands in the pockets of his tan pants and left, put off.

'Little brothers,' Sarina groaned, shaking her head in disdain.

~*~*~

Several hours later, I was sitting at my desk with a bowl of soup and a ham sandwich, eating lunch. Ditto recognised the smell of food and released itself from its ball, snuffling of the air eagerly. I didn't make eye contact—though I knew it probably couldn't see whether or not I looked at it—and continued eating. It began to make guttural noises in defiance for being ignored and I sighed in annoyance.

"Fine," I muttered, letting my left hand drop down to the side of the chair. "Just don't suck my hand dry, okay? If I say stop, then you stop."

Like before, it gave the familiar monotonous "Dit" that implied that it didn't care what it had to do to get at my lifeblood. When it sensed I had put a pair of fingers to its eyes' lips, it began to rub on them slightly to figure out exactly what they were before nibbling on them slightly. I winced when it pricked the pad of each of those fingers, tensing up when it began licking on them contentedly; but, once I'd gotten used to the sensation, I returned to my lunch, tending to my plate and letting Ditto tend to its own.

Once I'd finished off my sandwich, I looked down at it in a revelation. "Ditto, you drink lots of different kinds of blood... right...? Not just human or Tenshi?"

It seemed to make an affirmative gesture with its body, murmuring a series of sounds in response that was probably more than a mere yes.

"Can you speak human? Can you speak the language I'm speaking now?"

It stopped feeding off my fingers for a moment, seeming to be in deep thought of how to respond. "Dit?" it muttered inquizzically with one of its tongued mouths. "Dittoooo."

I giggled. "It's fine, Ditto. I was just curious whether I could get first-hand facts on your symbiotism." I stroked it lovingly, then let it suck on my fingers again, smiling. "I'll research your species some more once I'm done eating." It squeaked and bit me again. "Ow! ...Okay, when we're done eating. Yeesh, touchy little doppelganger, aren't we?"

~*~*~

Ditto curled up on my desk for a nap when I began to gather books to study up on it. By the time I sat again, opening up one of the textbooks, it had fallen asleep. I looked in the table of contents of this book—it had several sections involving the rarer species of Pokémon, and figured I would find what I wanted—but found nothing on Dittos. I checked the index to make sure, and still I found nothing, to much irritation. I opened another book and found simple encyclopćdic information, but nothing specific enough. Several more books left me in equal lack of further education on the matter, and I slumped down on the desk such that my little pet stirred slightly from its nap, but then settled back down at hearing nothing was upturned or injured.

I sighed, looking at the mostly-healed sticks in my fingertips in depression. 'Why don't any of these Pokémon textbooks have any information on what Ditto is really like? Is it really so rare for someone to have captured one? To have studied one? Humans are so disappointing. I mean, I caught one without using any Pokémon to weaken it first....'

I frowned, getting up and returning the books to their place on the shelves in the corner of my room. Then, as I was putting them up, I thought that one of my genetics books might have a glossary entry on the matter. I returned to my seat after pulling out a few on using Pokémon as test subjects and the benefits of altering already-known genetics.

'Why didn't I think of these before?' I mumbled, skimming over the table of contents of each book I'd gathered up, finding entire chapters dedicated to the shapeshifting Pokémon. Finding one that seemed more comprehensive than others, I began to read.

During the Shinkari Period, geneticist Gene Rhesh created a large variety of organisms that now primarily inhabit Gaia. The Ditto species, one of Rhesh's creations, is one that survives by remaining hidden in the shape of objects and creatures that occupy its surroundings. It is known to take on the form of both animate and inanimate objects, though, in inanimate shape, it is much more obviously out of place. It is capable of altering its genetic and chemical makeup to be molecularly identical to its target—and, thus, quite difficult to locate in the wild, in most circumstances.

Little was known about these creatures until Rhesh's studies were released for public consumption. Found in these documents is the information involving its nature, and, more important to the purpose of this textbook, the exact sources of the species's shapeshifting abilities. A Ditto obtains samples of matter from very many different creatures—blood, in particular—and uses the DNA contained in the cells it has cropped in order to annex to a growing "library" of genetics. The Pokémon is blind, contrary to human ignorance that its semi-false eyes are a pair of mouths. Its sense of smell is nonpareil, similar to a snake's, and guides the Ditto as its strongest sense. Its hearing, similarly excellent, is conducted in a series of sensitive membranes located at the back of the false mouth through which it respirates. Although its superficial anatomy is complex, its innards are quite simple, and reminiscent of an amoeba.

While the average Ditto has a capacity of holding between twenty and fifty strands inside its body, many sources have discovered that older, higher level Dittos can possess a nearly infinite amount of genetics. Many sources speculate that Mew is simply the oldest surviving Ditto, and possesses a copy of every existing Pokémon's genome.

I stopped reading right then, stricken by sudden inspiration, and stood, grabbing Ditto up off the desk and holding it in my arms, dancing around. The two of us giggled as we spun this way and that. I flung the two of us on the bed and I began tickling it, grinning. "Ditto, my dear, we finally have something for you to do~!"

~*~*~

I'd researched the matter for another hour or so before plotting to perform the act after dark so that Sarina would be less likely to catch me. I respected her profoundly as my mentor, but I felt that she wouldn't share my views about the morality of genetic alteration. Nervous, I sneaked into the laboratory, and began to look around for the vial I wanted. I shuffled as cautiously as I could through the series of bottles and baubles, locating the various necessary chemicals and instruments that I would need, but could not find the sample I wanted. I looked all around the computer, reaching around it and looking under it. But then I smushed my face into my hand and pushed the "eject" button on the computer's analysis cartridge. It'd been *in* the computer since last night!

I gathered and mixed my ingredients together in a separate test tube, then added to it drop by drop of the blood from the vial. When I had a good sampling to work with, I put the lid back on the vial, and I blended the concoction together and let it separate. Once separated, I used a pipette to gather the part of it I wanted and put it in a second vial, then sat at the computer and put the vial in the analysis cartridge. Then I loaded the analysis program and waited anxiously for it to show me whether what I'd done had worked.

And it had. I was ecstatic to see that all two hundred some-odd strands had separated from one another, and proceeded to run the algorithm that would increase the amount of substance in the vial. Once I had about a full vial's worth, I shut the program down again and grabbed the vial. I knelt down to the floor and let Ditto out of its Pokéball, then pulled the lid off the vial and offered it slowly to Ditto.

"Ditto, I know you enjoy blood. Do you want this?"

It snuffled of it for a minute, then gave a flat "Dit" and shirked the offer. It had known the stuff had been doctored from the smell of it. Drat.

I sighed. "This won't hurt you, Ditto. It has a rare new strand in it, and I thought you'd like it."

It reconsidered its decision as quickly as it had turned it down, and whirled around, sticking the tip of one of its tongues down into the tube to taste it. It squealed and wrapped the lips of one eye-mouths around the top, downing its contents in a matter of two swallows. It dropped the vial and murmured softly, closing its eye-mouths contentedly and curling up in my lap.

I smiled, petting it. 'Goodnight, Ditto-chan.'

Breezy
March 4th, 2005, 11:45 PM
I meant to review this on SPPf before it crashed so I hope you don't mind if I review here. :) I'll post this review on SPPf too once it re-opens again.

Anyhoo, this is only for chapter one. I'll read and review chapter two and three when I have the chance.

I'm not too sure as to why you used apostrophes to indicate dialouge and then quotation marks when the scene changed. =/ Any hidden reason behind that?

Nothing too big you have to worry about grammar/puncuation wise; you nailed that part down great. ^_^ Your description was beautiful and very vivid IMO. A nice use of different sentence types too.

A vampire Ditto . . . o.0 Highly original I must say. I wonder how he got that way . . .

Sorry for the extremely crappy review. My eyes are burning and I'm much too tired to do a proper review (bad Breezy, I know. I'll prolly end up re-reviewing chapter 1 tomorrow anyways so meh).

I will say that I'm surprised that this fic hasn't had any other reviewers. Quite a pity for they're missing out on a brilliant fic.

LaTeR dAyZ!

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 5th, 2005, 07:25 AM
I hope you don't mind if I review here.
o__o Why would I mind? XD

I'm not too sure as to why you used apostrophes to indicate dialouge and then quotation marks when the scene changed. =/ Any hidden reason behind that?
Heh, most people who've replied didn't even pick up that there was a different. Single quotes denotes Tenshi tongue, while double-quotes denotes English. ^-^

Your description was beautiful
*hits the save button on your reply* ;_;

A vampire Ditto . . . o.0 Highly original I must say. I wonder how he got that way . . .
Uhm, o_O. At the moment I wonder whether or not to tell you that bloodlust is my perception of how Ditto is capable of turning into the things it does.... Ah well. Chapter Three will do that all the same....

I will say that I'm surprised that this fic hasn't had any other reviewers. Quite a pity for they're missing out on a brilliant fic.
.... Have you any idea how long it's been since anyone's called this fiction... brilliant...?! *happy tear*

oni flygon
March 7th, 2005, 04:35 PM
Didn't quite notice this fic... but...
Congrats! Fanfic of the week!

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 7th, 2005, 11:15 PM
I am taken completely by my fiction taking Fanfic of the Week, when I've only been here less than that. It's been years since I got that sort of recognition. ....Thank you. :20:

Chapter Four: Muscle Museum

I sat across the restaurant table from Tsume, gazing dreamily into his gorgeous crimson eyes. He smiled at me, in similar euphoria. Reaching out to place his hand upon mine, he spoke. "I don't care if you're not human. You're the most beautiful girl I've ever met, and the first I've known that's smarter than I am. You've a cute personality, you're witty, and you... you're just... wonderful, Suri. I love you." He took my hand up and kissed it.

I blushed deeply, in heaven. "Stop it, Tsume," I giggled, watching from the corner of my averted eye as he continued to kiss up my arm. He kissed my cheek, and I thought my face could fall no deeper red. "No, really, stop it!" I began, now petrified when he licked my cheek thoroughly, then began gnawing on my ear. I tried to push him away, but he dug his teeth in and tittered cruelly.

~*~*~

I shot up in the bed in horror, gasping deeply. Do I really have that sort of affection for Tsume...!? I demanded of myself. .... Does he have that affection for me...? After a minute of dumbfounded half-awake silence, I realised that my ear was still throbbing. I put my hand up to the side of my head and felt at it blindly, confused, and froze up completely when I felt something warm and wet. I withdrew my hand covered in drool, and I shivered, unable to compute whether that had actually been a dream.

I threw the covers off my feet, then stood and began to pace, trying to remember exactly how the night before had gone. 'I... yesterday, I went with Kizuki-sama to Ecruteak, and she introduced me to that human splicer.... His name was... Keiji...? No, she called him something different.... She, her brother, and I then talked about the matter for some time. Then I... came here, and I ate lunch. I researched Ditto for several hours, and I worked in Kizuki-sama's lab last night. I took that splicer's Kurai strand out of a part of that vial of blood, and I gave it to my Ditto. Then I came back to my quarters, and I went to bed because it was late. I set Ditto on the end of the bed to let it sleep.' When I had finished retelling to myself the prior day, I looked at the end of the bed in dismay. 'But where's Ditto now!?' I frowned, again confused.

I heard a short, quiet giggle come from under my bed, and I shuddered, not recognising the voice. "D—Ditto...?" I called out faintly, horribly on edge as I inched nearer and nearer to the bed. When I received no response, I knelt down to the carpet slowly and proceeded to lift the dust ruffle with caution. My heart began to race when I saw a pair of big golden eyes staring back at me from under my bed, and I was instantly frozen stiff in fright. The creature giggled again and approached me, then gave a thorough licking to the hand that had propped me up.

I screamed out loud, panicking and scrambling away. When my back came up against the wall behind me, I began to panic even more.

Sarina came running the instant she'd heard my outcry, and was there even before the creature had come out from under the bed. 'What? What's wrong?!' she exclaimed, glaring at me in worry.

I was speechless, pointing frantically at the emerging beast. Standing there before us was then a short black ball of fluff—it stood about a foot tall, maybe taller. Its head was covered in lavender hair similar to mine, and it had a pair of small bat-like wings, and a lizard-like tail, both of which were also covered in the short fur what covered its body. As for its body, it sat on two legs, though its shape was quite rolypoly; it had two arms, too. Its face was shaped similarly to some cross between a fox's and a snake's. It trilled and gave the two of us a huge smile, showing us that it had many cute but sharp fangs.

'S—Suri... what is that...?'

'I... I think it's my Ditto...' I replied, my mouth dry. ".... Ditto, is that you...?" I asked it.

It cooed and waddled up to me, curling up in my lap.

I stared at it, blank. "Y—why were you gnawing my ear off!?" I roared, plucking it up by its elfin ears, which had been previously hidden by its fluffy hair. As I glared at it with daggers in my eyes, it gave me horrible Growlithe eyes in response, full of sadness, and it whimpered, tears forming. I melted and put it back down, petting it to calm it down. "I'm sorry for being so angry. I just don't understand why you do that sort of thing. It's frustrating!!"

It cooed apologetically, and rubbed its head against my hand, purring.

'.... What *is* your Ditto Transformed into?' Sarina continued, not enjoying being out of the loop.

I sweatdropped, again nervous. 'Ah—ah—I think it's trying to be a Kurai...?' I laughed loudly, hoping ever so much that she wouldn't get mad at me. I really hadn't thought ahead to when she would actually find out what I'd done.

'.... Why would it be trying to be a Kurai...?' I could sense the irritation in her voice. I'm sure she'd already read my thoughts, but she wanted me to admit to her in words what I'd done.

'Haha, I took a couple of drops of that splicer's blood from the sample you had in the lab.... I took the Kurai strand out of it... and I fed the serum to it....' I began inching away from her, grinning in horrible fits of worry.

She said nothing for several minutes, trying to form the words as she stared at Ditto. 'Suri, I expected more from you.... You... went behind my back, stole a strand from one of my pedaishi patients, and gave it to your Ditto.... Why didn't you just ask...?'

'I was afraid you would object to the idea of giving a Pokémon a Kurai strand, Kizuki-sama,' I sighed, not looking at her, upset with myself. 'Apparently it didn't go as planned...' I sighed, laughing lightly as I petted my experiment.

'Quite the contrary, my dear,' she contradicted, sitting next to me on the floor and reaching out to pet it. 'You have done something that has never before been done. I would have never even thought to separate the Kurai strand from its familiar face and put it into an unadulterated environment. This is what the strand itself must look like,' she continued, now fascinated.

Kurai not mature. Not enough time.

The both of us stared at the creature in my lap. ".... Did you just speak, Kizuki-sama?"

'No...' she replied, confused to why I had spoken English. Then she caught on that Ditto only knew English and Ditto.

Kurai have telepathy, the Ditto explained, smiling up at us with a 'cha' sound. Handy for Kurai be able to speak what language audience hears.

"Y—yes... yes, it is..." I uttered. Once it had worn off, I looked to Sarina, then back to Ditto. "Since you seem to enjoy the Kurai strand so much... do you mind if I call you Kurai and not Ditto? I mean, since you are in Kurai form, and all...."

It smiled. Kurai like the strand. She like that name, too.

~*~*~

'We'll have to teach it better diction,' Sarina complained, the two of us sitting on the bed now, Kurai perched upon my shoulder. She was speaking in Tenshi as to avoid having said it to Kurai. 'Improper grammar grates on my nerves worse than a Fearow's screech.'

'Agreed,' I stated, out of it a bit. 'Say, Kizuki-sama, I still have it in my head what Kurai had said, that "she" isn't fully matured yet.... You don't suppose she'll change at all, do you?'

'I have no clue, dear. There's no safe way to tell, unless....'

After she didn't finish her statement, I prodded her to do so. 'Unless what?' I uttered.

'I do have some chemicals that would accelerate the Ditto's rate of maturity. They're highly unstable, though....'

Kurai began to gnaw on my ear cutely again, cooing from time to time, and I plucked her off of me, setting her in my lap again. 'I don't know if I would feel right doing that to Kurai, though. If it's likely to harm her, then I don't think I would risk it.'

'Oh, I didn't mean it was harmful,' she corrected. 'I meant that it ages some differently than it does others.'

I sweatdropped, thinking she was, for once, as ditzy as me. 'I suppose it would be okay, then, to try a little bit...?'

~*~*~

We came to the laboratory, and I sat Kurai down on the edge of the counter closest to the computer, as that was also near where Sarina was rummaging in her cabinets. Kurai seemed to be slightly on edge, and obviously knew that we were going to do something to her. I petted her to keep her calm, though it didn't visibly do anything for her temperament.

"Here we go," Sarina interjected, pulling out an opaque topaz bottle with a black lid and white label. She had switched to English to be courteous to her newest pedaishi of sorts. "Kurai," she smiled, "this is a glycosyl that will stimulate your strand's hormones and accelerate your aging. It will wear off in roughly a week, and it may give you some discomfort. Suri and I are simply curious of what the Kurai strand looks like at full gestation."

Kurai thought a moment, eyeing the bottle with those huge golden eyes. Will Kurai be able to be other things or revert to small Kurai with chemical in body? She seemed to understand that we weren't trying to hurt her, and it seemed as though she was just as curious as we were.

She shook her head. "It will have to take its course before you can Transform into anything else."

.... Kurai will take chemical. Kurai want to please her friends.

The two of us smiled. "Friends," I repeated. "Thank you, Kurai. This means a lot to us."

Sarina proceeded to draw several units of the glycosyl into a syringe, then tapped it to rid the barrel of air bubbles. She took a fold of skin at Kurai's nape, and made sure that the shapeshifter was prepared for the injection before administering the drug.

Kurai shook it off, fluffing out in dislike of the sensation, then settled down again, licking her fur back down. She 'cha'-ed and twitched her ears a bit. Chemical cold, she complained, looking to Sarina.

She flustered. "I'm sorry," she apologised, petting her head. "I didn't think to warm it up...."

"Are you hungry, Kurai?" I began, trying to get her mind off of the chill in her veins. Sarina shot me a dirty look, but I said nothing in response.

Kurai hungry, she nodded.

I walked over to the refrigerator marked 'C' and proceeded to withdraw a smaller bag of blood. I offered it to her, but she simply stared at it.

"What's the matter?" I asked. "Is it because it's cold?"

She shook her head. Kurai body not desire blood. Stomach wants solid food. She patted it and it growled a bit, and the two of us sweatdropped.

I looked to Sarina and she shrugged, smiling nervously. 'Take her to the kitchen and find her something to eat, then. If she shows any signs of the chemical taking effect, come tell me.'

~*~*~

I sat Kurai on the island in the middle of the large kitchen. This was where the cooks prepared meals for the students of Lavender Gym, and, of course, was well-equipped. There were several different refrigerators, each filled with a different food group; pots and pans hung over the island from a series of hooks; and, cabinets and drawers lined the walls. Kurai watched me as I looked through the various contents of one fridge.

I set a variety of different leftovers in front of her, removing the lids of each container for her to inspect their contents. She leaned over them cautiously, snuffling of them with that adorable nose of hers. After a moment she decided upon a single course and gave a loud, cute "aaah" of contentment as she pulled the bowl of spaghetti her way. She used no etiquette then (for she likely knew none, considering, in her natural state, that she was blind to others' prying eyes, and was obviously unaffected by having others watch her eat), using her tiny, nimble fingers to take up with delicacy only small numbers of single noodles at a time, then strung them high above her head and dropped them down slowly into her mouth, one handful at a time, thoroughly chewing the mouthful before moving on to the next. Several handsful of spaghetti later, she decided it was time to try a meatball, and she grinned, spearing it with the claw on her index finger. She bit into it voraciously, giving a delightfully cute snarl as she tore about a third of it off, and downed it without even chewing it. She looked up at me then and smiled, her cheeks, mouth, and hands covered in marinara sauce. Meat.

I returned the benign gesture and laughed slightly. "I figured you'd like meatballs," I replied, putting the other leftovers back where I'd found them.

It took her no time at all to finish off her own weight in spaghetti, and, once she had pushed the empty bowl away, she rolled back and flopped on the counter with a thud, stuffed. Full, she groaned.

I smiled warmly, taking the dish and putting it in the sink. "I'm glad. Was it good?"

S'ghetti good, she agreed, not wanting to move.

I cradled her in my arms and rocked her to sleep, strolling around the kitchen as I wiped her face clean with a cloth napkin. Once she had fallen asleep, I decided to return to my quarters and get dressed, since I was still in my pyjamas, and it was almost noon now. Not a moment after I'd stepped out into the hall, however, a cold chill ran down my spine, and Kurai snapped to consciousness.

What the matter, Suri-lady? she asked, snuffling the air.

I started to walk again, slowly. "I... I don't know. I just got a bad feeling all of a sudden."

She didn't fall back to sleep though, like I thought she would, looking all around her as though she sensed what had made me suddenly so wary.

I closed the door to my quarters, then walked over to the bed and set Kurai on the end, fluffing the comforter up around her a bit. "You can take a nap if you like. I have some things to attend to."

Kurai not tired. Kurai stay awake. Want watch what Suri-lady does.

"Suit yourself," I mumbled nonchalantly, approaching my closet, which had a mirrored sliding door. After shucking out of my pyjamas, I pulled out a sleeveless amethyst dress and a black turtleneck, then slipped into the shirt, tossing the dress on my desk chair while I pulled out a pair of darkly coloured socks and my beloved Victorian boots. I'd had those boots for many years, and they showed their age with a myriad of scuffs and scratches to their black hide. Smiling, I withdrew them from the bottom of the closet and set them by my desk, tossing the socks next to them, and proceeded to pick up the dress and put it on.

As I held my hair off the nape of my neck and zipped up the zipper in the back, I watched my reflection out of the corner of my eye. Slowly I began to notice something odd seeming to flicker there, and slowly grew to stare at myself in increasing horror. Behind me was easily a hundred eyes, removed from their body and simply floating there, staring at me. By the time I noticed their presence, Kurai had begun to growl, obviously aware that we weren't alone. A low chuckle echoed through the room.

I turned and stared back at the creature, who greeted me with a Cheshire grin, broad, fangy, and similarly floating out of place. Licking his fangs over with delight, he began to laugh at me painfully, floating nearer and nearer to me. In stages he became visible to my eyes, and his eyes seemed to vanish—first were his hands, ghostly and cold to the touch, one fingering my chin, the other at my neck; then came his arms and feet and legs, lanky yet strong; then, his body, thin and long; and last came his face, the horrible visage of the beast I'd met not a day ago.

"Takeru," I uttered, as acridly as I could muster whilst staring him down. I would have assailed him for his attire—for he seemed to have walked out of the nineteenth century, with that crimson (though it was almost black) trenchcoat he wore over an offwhite blouse, and black vest and slacks, and that cream-coloured ascot tied around his neck—but I could tell the brooch what was pinned at his throat was the handiwork of Sarina Kizuki.

"And here I came to make friends and apologise for yesterday, but here I've come to find that you've repeated *this* twisted experiment, just for me...." He hissed at Kurai, turning his head to glare at her, but did not remove his pallid hands from about my throat. "You disgust me, shapeshifter, however hypocritical that emotion may be. I shouldn't care less that you have no concern from whom your genetics have come."

She attacked him with silence, sitting in place and glaring at him, fangs bared and wings splayed fiercely.

After a minute he broke up laughing at her, pointing a finger and cackling. "Y—you think that's intimidating!" he hooted. "Do you even know what that strand actually looks like?" He jeered at her, baring his fangs, his eyes taking on an entirely animalistic aura, then took a haughty but casual stance, trying to act like he wasn't intimidated by a little black fluff.

Kurai not have the experience to know everything about strands she get, she hissed, ears flat against her head.

"Oh joy," he mocked, hurt more and more by her existance with every passing moment. "Not only did you give a Ditto my DNA, but you gave it to a low-level Ditto," he seethed, turning to glare again at me. "Do you have any idea how much it meant to me when Rei Takunei gave me that strand? Do you have any idea?!" His face tapered outward into a muzzle as his anger mounted, his skin grating into coarse black scales. His aureate eyes held in them a completely demonic fire. "I have had this strand for more than seven hundred years, and you just whimsically decide that it would be a *wonderful* idea to feed it to your stupid pet Ditto!" He began to advance on me slowly, and I backed away from him in fright. With every step he took, his body further mutated in his rage. Muscles began to bulge visibly through the thick fabric of his coat; his boots ripped from his feet, revealing reptilian feet; his hands became long, sharp claws, his arms growing to be another half-length longer; his knees reversed with a nauseating crack of bones; his body shuddered in temporary shock when a loud rip of flesh resounded from behind him and a long, thick, lizardlike tail erupted from the seat of his pants, and he began to swish it back and forth viciously as he moved. With every step he took, he grew several inches taller than he had been the step before. And with every step he took, the louder the ripping of cloth became, until he was too much for the commodity, and it shredded from around his arms and legs, pulled apart and dangling from his body. All that remained were vague parts of his pants and the now tattered ascot about his neck.

He fell onto all fours once he had grown to be about seven feet tall, and proceeded to slither towards me as though a ravenous Feraligat'r. I looked on in horror as I saw his back bulging, something beneath his thick hide wriggling furiously to escape. His mutation ceased once he was almost ten feet tall, and all fell silent in the room, save his musky breathing and the crawling of flesh. I screamed, terrified, when he screeched shrilly and splayed a pair of enormous, terrible, bat-like wings. They were each more than eight feet wide from his shoulder, for they crumpled as they struck the walls of my room, unable to be completely unfurled.

His hot breath rained down upon me as he growled at me violently. "This..." he presented, opening his arms wide, "is what a Kurai looks like." He then grabbed Kurai with a single hand, strangling her (I don't think he could have picked her up in any other way, considering his sheer size) and drawing her to be between the two of us. "This," he seethed madly, "is *not* what a Kurai looks like."

"L—let her go," I demanded, unable to produce much more than a squeak.

He grinned dementedly. "Why should I? If I break its neck, it will have to give up its form in order to regenerate the damaged tissue."

I cried out then, knowing that the drugs that Kurai had been given would prevent her from returning to her amorphous shape. But I could do nothing, paralysed in fear and agony.

Bad man not a Kurai, she defied, biting his hand.

He squealed, throwing her at me and favouring the injured fingers. "You little—!" He bared his dozens of fangs at the both of us, hissing violently, then leapt as best he could in the tiny room (at least, it was tiny to him) and crashed down upon us, a mass of sharp ends, drool, and fangs.

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 7th, 2005, 11:15 PM
==Author's notes for Chapter Four:

"Muscle Museum" is a song by the British band Muse. The second stanza strikes me particularly in reference to the contents of this chapter, while the first stanza (really, the first line of the song) matches the fifth and sixth chapters—but I'll get to that later on. "I have played in every toilet // But you still want to spoil it // To prove I've made a big mistake"

Takeru thinks that the Ditto's a mockery of his very power because she came into her Kurai strand through theft, and at an extremely low level at that. This exemplifies that Takeru is Keiji's super-ego, and thus wrapped up in himself and unable to accept that others have any worth at all.

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 9th, 2005, 12:29 AM
Chapter Five: TSP

When I woke up, Takeru lay not a foot from me, unconscious. I groaned, trying to sit up, but I could not, completely sore, from head to toe. I rubbed my head, and knew already that several bones had been broken in the attack, and I could feel blood beginning to crust all over my body. I looked around the room to try to find Kurai, and discovered she was laying near Takeru. I wondered how long I'd been knocked out.

"Ngh," I mumbled. "Kurai, are you okay?" I received no response. "Kurai?" I repeated. Again, nothing. It drove me to move toward her, despite the horrifying pain it put me through; I reached out to her cautiously, hoping the sleeping beast would not awaken, and nudged her slightly, just enough to tell she still had a heartbeat, and was still breathing. She, like myself, had taken a beating, but I could tell it was more internal damage than anything else.

Several minutes later, Sarina walked in calmly and quietly, though I could tell by how stiff her steps were that she was highly on edge by the situation. She approached him slowly, but did not get too near. 'H—what happened...?' she uttered.

'He attacked Kurai and me.... He... he said that she was a living mockery of his greatest power....' I coughed in pain, then moaned and doubled over, too weak to sit up anymore.

The motion in the room brought Kurai around and she began to struggle in the beast's grip, trying to get free. His hand would not budge. She soon gave up and sobbed softly, in too great an amount of pain to do much else.

Sarina knelt down beside him, and reached a hand out cautiously, seeing if his eyes followed its movement, and she checked whether she felt breath escape his open mouth, then she placed a hand upon his bare chest to check for a pulse. She chuckled lightly, then sighed. 'I wish I could say whether he's dead.... I felt neither heartbeat nor breath, and his eyes stare only in one direction—the hand that's got the Ditto trapped....'

I twitched, finding what she'd just said incomprehensible. 'Y—you found no life signs!' I stammered. 'How can you say he isn't dead!?'

'Suri, my dear, this man doesn't play by the rules of life. You forget that he's outlived the lifespan of his species, let alone that of a Tenshi.' She looked at him again. 'I hate to say it, but there's only one way to tell....'

'What's that?'

She replied by reaching over to my face and running a finger through a trickle of blood, then hesitantly hung the finger over his mouth. The both of us watched intently for any sign of anything. Moments later the two of us became completely motionless as his pointed tongue managed to creep up out of his mouth, struggling to obtain even that miniscule droplet of life-force. When he managed to make contact with it, he let out a groaning sigh, and his body trembled in agony and withdrew it in an instant.

She wiped her finger off on her pants. 'I don't know whether to be happy for him that he's alive.... What did you do to him that made him like this!'

'I... I don't know.... I think Kurai did something to him....'

Kurai's bite has poison, she offered, pride in her devastated voice. Gave bad man poison bites lotsa times.

'That doesn't make any sense...!' Sarina uttered at last in exasperation. 'If a Kurai has venom, then he would be immune to it! He's a Kurai, too!'

'Maybe it's one of those things to which you build up an immunity,' I told her, trying not to breathe too deeply, feeling like several ribs were broken. 'I would imagine that, if my theory were right, he hasn't had a fight with other Kurai, since the only one he's met was the one he idolises....'

'He made his brother like he is,' she corrected, still unable to comprehend what had happened to him, 'and they fight a great deal....'

'Whatever the matter, we need to get Kurai away from him,' I began. 'She's badly injured and can't heal herself.'

'Agreed.'

~*~*~

Sarina soon had each of us recovering in separate corners of the complex—Takeru was in the guest quarters closest to the laboratory, and Kurai and I were in my quarters. We had all agreed that we needed to be out of Takeru's reach once he became animate again.

"Kurai, you need to drink this," I continued, holding the vial to her pursed lips.

Kurai not like how it smell.

"It doesn't matter how it smells. It will help your body heal. You can't heal yourself because of the hormone stimulants, so you need medicine to do it for you."

She stared at the clearish yellow stuff in distress, then pouted. Is icky... she whined.

I smiled, thinking she was too cute. "It doesn't taste that icky. Here, I'll drink my share. I need it in order to heal my wounds, too." Once I had downed the large mouthful of viscous, bittersweet kimizu, I looked to her again, hoping I'd been a good enough example that she'd follow suit. I had used kimizu for its healing properties for many years. Made from the nectar of an aquatic flower on my home planet, it's the cure-all of Hanehasu, good for aches, wounds, and broken bones; however, it isn't so great for more drastic injuries, even when taken in larger doses. "Well, I did. Won't you?"

.... Kurai want get well, but not want drink icky stuff.

"Kurai," I began, picking her up. I set her in my lap and petted her. "Please. Do it so you'll get better. If your body is injured, then your body won't mature properly. Don't you want to see what the strand I gave you can do?"

The prospect was an instant opinion-changer, and she snapped her vial from my hand, hesitating only momentarily before swallowing its contents. She burped slightly, and smiled. Suri-lady right. Icky stuff not taste that icky.

I laughed, stroking her hair, pleased. "I'm glad. Now, will you take a nap? I'm going to, since the medicine works best if you rest."

Kurai nap with Suri-lady, she agreed, jumping out of my lap. She pounced on one of my pillows and then curled up on it after getting it on the bed just how she wanted it. My pillow, she purred, splaying one wing slightly, then curled it around her shoulder and fell asleep.

I chuckled, settling back down into bed, in dire need of some actual rest. Though I was certain to have nightmares, considering everything that had happened since this morning, I looked forward to getting even an extra five minutes' sleep. I looked upon Kurai once more before turning over and falling asleep.

~*~*~

Suri-lady... Kurai whined, poking at me.

"Mmmh?" I mumbled sleepily.

Suri-lady... Kurai feel funny....

I opened my eyes slowly, then immediately leapt away from the creature that had awakened me. She had grown to be more than twice as tall in the time that I'd been asleep! Already her form was becoming humanoid. Her arms were no longer built for a quadraped, and her wings had grown larger in proportion to the rest of her body. She'd lost a good deal of body fat, her shape slimmer and better for walking on her hind legs. She had shed a good deal of fur where her skin had begun to become scaly, leaving patches only at her hands and feet now, and some at her thighs.

I flustered, looking at the clock to see how long I'd been asleep. I'd only been out for an hour...!? My face fell to pallor and I stared at her in horror.

Suri-lady not like Kurai? she began, frowning. From the looks of it, she was comparable to a four-year old human.

"'Suri-lady' is just in shock," I replied, catering to the dialect. "No wonder you feel peculiar, Kurai...." I sighed, pulling her closer to me and hugging her. "Does it hurt?"

Kurai feel all stretchy an' stuff, but Kurai not in pain, she assured.

"Good, good."

.... Kurai hungie again, she prodded sheepishly.

"Understandable!" I exclaimed, getting up and leaving her sitting on the bed. As I put my boots on, I continued, "Your metabolism has got to be through the roof if your body is aging THAT quickly. Come on, I'll take you to the kitchen and get you something to eat."

She nodded meekly, scampering alongside me down the hall.

~*~*~

'I didn't expect it to have this much of a reaction on her,' Sarina awed, watching her dig into the half-mold of meatloaf. 'It usually takes at least a full twenty-four hour period for it to show any affect on an individual. I just hope that it wears off in less time than normal, since she's aging so quickly.'

'It wouldn't make her unstable, would it?' I began, now worried.

'Oh no, no no no,' she uttered, waving a hand dismissively to the idea. 'This chemical induces the equivalent of a growth spurt, my dear. The only difference is that, until it's out of her system, it will be in a permanent "on" position, if you get my drift.'

'If it continues to spur her hormones, she'll end up being larger than Takeru... won't she?'

'It's a possibility.'

'Speaking of Takeru, I've been meaning to ask you.... Why *do* you help him, time after time?'

"Chaaa!" Kurai interjected, content with having eaten all the meatloaf at that point. She then moved on to a bowl of fruit, quiet again save for the sounds of chewing.

'.... Suri, it is my duty as a geneticist—as a doctor—to heal the wounded. It's just by chance that he happened to consider me acceptable to operate on him so many years ago....'

I could do little more than stare at her in disgusted shock. 'You're in love with him,' I mouthed, silently.

She became instantly more solemn. 'You can't tell me that you've never fallen for a man based solely on his charisma,' she replied wistfully. 'I have a weak spot for powerful men....' She smiled faintly, as though something painful was wrought up in her mind then.'I suppose history repeats itself.... I took an integral part in the Kuraitoshiro Wars....' She sighed, seeing I was confused and upset by the direction the conversation had taken. 'You know from history that Gabriel Ayase was the one that had started it all? He could fund his own research because he was filthy rich. He was part of the Eraeni clan, a mafia family that controlled several settlements in the North. He wanted to find a quick way to inherit more power than money could buy for him, and resorted to genetics for an enhancement of speed, strength, and intellect. When that was not enough for him, he continued to collect more and more genetics together, amalgamating what we recognise today as a Shirotenshi.'

'.... You helped Ayase? That's why you haven't brought it up before—the Shirotenshi lost to the Kuraitenshi....' I sighed, distraught.

'Oh, no, my dear. I helped Takunei. He won because of me.'

I refrained from commenting on how big-headed it was of her to say such a thing.

'You see, Takunei did *not* come from such a well-to-do family as Ayase had. He came to me because I was still practising, if you want to put it that way....' She sighed, not looking at me. 'He told me that Ayase's clan had killed his parents, right in front of him, nonetheless, and that this was revenge.'

'Why would the Shiro have cared one bit about him!?' I exclaimed, not believing her story.

'Heh... you don't think that mafia families make enemies in the strangest places?' Flustered silence was enough of an answer for her, and she continued. 'He proceeded to make demands of me. He wanted power. He wanted to be everything that Ayase was, and then some. He wanted to prove a vital point—that he would not let anyone step on him again, from that day forward. He, like myself, was young then—probably too young—and found great humour in emphasising his rivalry by embracing the other face of the situation. Shirotenshi were named for their beautiful, white feathered wings; Kuraitenshi were named for their glistening black wings.

'Days became months, and finally I had made him what he'd desired to be. Over the course of several years, he made himself known to Ayase by killing off his underlings in graphic, public ways, but Ayase had not shown himself. Ten or twelve years after he had first begun the series of murders, he'd decided that enough was enough and managed to slaughter over twenty Shiro on a street corner—he hung their corpses from the lampposts, leaving their heads in the gutters. The rouse worked all too well, and brought on an unexpectedly enraged Shirotenshi the next time Takunei decided to strike. The horrifying loss he suffered took several decades to heal.

'He returned to me thirty years later, and demanded that I fabricate a steroidal enhancement for him. He thought it would help, but I knew better than to think simple steroids would do any good. When I followed through with his wishes, I enlaid the gold foil with a viral code that acted like a steroid, and modified his bodily composition on the chakral level. It would allow his body to tie directly into his spiritual energies and fuel whatever force he required, which would grant him the potential that I knew he wanted. However, it had the unexpected side-effect of making him absorb the mentalities of the species what comprised the Kuraitenshi's genetics over time. I never told him exactly what that brooch did.'

'Chakral steroids are that old?' I uttered, dumbstricken. 'I didn't think that the connection between energy and matter were made until much later than the Shinkari Period.'

'My dear, chakral modifications were pioneered by my handiwork. You weren't aware of that?'

To avoid sounding stupid, I interrupted the thought. 'Y—is Takunei or Ayase still alive?'

'I wouldn't have the slightest idea,' she frowned. 'Takunei last spoke to me a week after I gave him the brooch, to gloat over having slaughtered Ayase. However, the body was never given a proper burial, so no one actually knows if Ayase really did die.'

'.... That's... that's morbid....'

'You're forgetting just how macabre Tenshi folklore can get, dear,' she smiled. 'You've been on Gaia too long.'

I blushed. 'L—let's go check on Takeru...' I began, again embarrassed.

She chuckled quietly, walking off down the hall. 'Clean up after your Ditto and come along, then.'

Kurai looked up at me innocently, fruit juices matted in her fur. "Cha!" Kurai like fruit, she purred.

I mashed my hand into my face. 'Lovely.'

~*~*~

The two of us (Kurai had decided to take another nap, the lazy shapeshifter) stood at the door of Takeru's quarters, to find that he was already awake, sitting on the side of the bed and staring out the window at the large courtyard. His clothing looked as though he hadn't burst out of its seams just this morning, crisp and well-pressed. Obviously, he'd mastered the art of matter synthesis; I knew very few that could do such a thing.

Sarina slowly moved toward him, and sat next to him. "Is there still any poison in your system?" she asked quietly.

He stroked the pale blue brooch at his neck, and gave a flat "no," as though he were trying to pretend to be indifferent to Sarina's aid.

The motion lit fire was lit in my brain in shock. No, it couldn't be the same brooch—!

His entire form shuddered, but he did not blink. "Are you certain?"

I laughed anxiously in my thoughts, trying to dismiss it. It wouldn't be...! That would... wait, Sarina said that Takunei gave him his Kurai strand in person.... I couldn't stop thinking about it.

"I'm certain," he growled, closing his eyes. "You didn't have to give me an antidote. My body would have expulsed the poison on its own...."

Would Takunei have given him the brooch? I pondered, fixated on that bauble at his throat.

He turned his head to look at me, not moving the rest of his body. "What do you want?" he grumbled, noticing me stare.

I flustered, averting my eyes. "I... nothing!"

"Suri's just one of those people with an insatiable curiousity, dear," she explained. "We were just talking about Takunei, and she's probably fascinated with the Rukuru."

"... Rukuru...?" I uttered, looking to the two again.

"That brooch isn't like the one that Takunei had, but it does serve similar purposes. It's what cured his ourei virus."

"She just knows everything about me, now, doesn't she?" he complained in a low, disgusted voice, almost as though it embarrassed him.

"Just what I've been told..." I replied sheepishly.

"I really should make it part of letting you help me that you can't share with your other pedaishi what you've done with me..." he muttered.

I started to make a snide comment about it in my stupidity, but almost bit my tongue off I acted so quickly to silence myself. The two of them had both heard what I was going to say, though, and I melted, both of them burning me with hateful glares. 'I hate telepaths....'

==Author's notes for Chapter Five:

"TSP" (e.g., The Small Print) is also a song by Muse. Foiling the previous chapter of not letting others shoulder you off, this song is about a futile attempt at revenge for such action. "Take—it'll make you insane, and it's bending the truth. And your toupée fell off. I laugh—ah, you're a loser.... I'm the priest God never paid."

This is a classic example of synecdoche, if you ask me.... *laughs her arse off*

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 15th, 2005, 02:09 PM
Chapter Six: For No Reason at All

Once I could take their acid glares no longer, I slunk away in depression. Sulking down the halls, I returned to my room, where Kurai was still asleep on the bed. 'Why must things get so complicated in so little time?' I uttered, distressed and dismayed.

I sighed, sitting on the side of my bed and looking out the window. Outside, it was slightly overcast, but the sun shone through several cracks in the clouds. It had rained that morning—I could tell from the way the plants glistened, their leaves hanging more heavily with the weight of water. It was early March, and it had been a Spring rain, one of rebirth. Smiling faintly, I almost hoped that it could wash me clean and give me a fresh start. Acting upon instinct, I immediately awoke Kurai so I could scoop her up in her Pokéball, then proceeded to gather up the contents of my purse and put on my jacket. Then, taking on my human guise, I hastened off the complex and took a short walk to clear my head and sort through everything I was thinking.

"Yeah, it did rain this morning," I commented to myself, noting the drizzling gutters as I walked along the downtown sidewalk. The streets were clogged mildly with traffic, and I had to sidestep a few rushed people. I otherwise was able to keep to myself.

After about half an hour that I'd wasted walking around absently, I decided to duck in to see Tsume. I climbed the front steps and entered the building, then found the nearest elevator and waited for it to return to ground level. After a minute it opened its metal doors, revealing a young girl and her mother, who exited after looking at me stupidly for a moment. I hit the button for the fifth floor, and began to tap my foot impatiently from the time the doors began to close. The computerized sensor chimed and the doors opened again, and I stepped out, looking for room 521.

I knocked once I'd found it, then again began to tap my foot, anxious. Over a minute passed, and I didn't expect for him to answer the door. I started to leave, thinking he was either asleep or out, but heard the locks click open behind me, and I returned to stand there. The door creaked open, still chained shut at the top lock, and he looked at me sleepily, rubbing at his eyes a bit. "S—Suri...?" he asked, confused and still mostly asleep.

"Hi." I smiled nervously. It's almost three in the afternoon! I thought to myself. "I didn't mean to wake you...."

"N—no, it's... it's fine," he insisted. "Hold on." He closed the door and unhooked the chain, then opened the door all the way. "Come in if you want. I'm sorry the place is a mess...."

I stepped inside, looking around a bit. There were clusters of junk food packaging and soda cans everywhere, mingled with your occasional beer can, and there were a few articles of clothing strung around, but it was otherwise a clean place. From the living room I could see that there was only one bedroom. I'd been under the impression that he'd had a roommate, but that was obviously untrue.

"Give me a sec," he continued, now less asleep than he'd been before. "I'm gonna grab a shirt."

"Okay," I chirped again, sitting on the couch. The furnishings were in short number, but they were quaint and made the place feel comfortable. The thought made me smile.

He came back, still buttoning a shirt over the tank top that he'd answered the door in. "This is a welcome surprise, you coming to see me for a change..." he began, slouching on the door frame and making a face. "What's up?"

"Tsume, I... I wish you'd been there today and yesterday...." I sighed, unable to sit still. "So much happened!" I exclaimed. "I—you remember that DNA that scared the wits out of me?"

"The one that had all those splices? Yeah, that had me scared, too. ....Why...?" He began to squirm.

"I met the man who has that DNA."

He twitched, but said nothing for a long time. "You're trying to tell me that that wasn't just some experiment or something?"

I shook my head. "His name is Takeru. Gods, that man...!" I shuddered.

He glared at me in utter digust. "That's not funny, Suri. You honestly had me going!"

"Wh—what?" I frowned, confused.

"Takeru," he snorted. "He's just a myth made up to frighten little kids into behaving."

"He's not a myth," I defied, still confused. "I went to Ecruteak yesterday and met him myself."

"How did you go all the way to Ecruteak and come back here?" he continued, believing me less and less.

"Sabrina's a psychic," I muttered, growing more and more irritated with him. "She teleported the two of us there."

He arched an eyebrow at this. ".... She's really a psychic?"

"Yes..." I growled. "Apparently Sabrina's been helping him recover from a virus that had been attacking his genetics. She had a sample of his blood, and I extracted the Kuraitenshi strand from it and fed it to my Ditto."

He leaned to the other side. "What's a Kuraitenshi?"

".... It's a long story. Just think of it as a race of creatures from my home world."

".... I was trying to forget that little fact..." he grumbled, rubbing the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes. "I just woke up. This is not something I need right now...."

"I needed to come talk to you, Tsume. Really I did."

"Why? What does any of this have to do with me?"

"I want to leave. I want to travel. And I want to take you with me."

"Wh—what? Just up and leave?" He grew irritated and came to sit next to me. "Where would we go? I don't have any money, and I grew up in Lavender."

"I haven't been able to see the world in so long.... So much has changed; I'm sure of it. It doesn't matter where we go—I simply must leave this place."

"Why? What's happened that would make you act upon instinct?"

"I don't know. I just have this feeling in my gut—I know that I have to do this. You... I really would like for you to come with me...."

"You're running from something, aren't you? You're afraid...."

I flustered. "I have to get away. Please understand that...!"

"Why are you running, Suri?"

I crumpled, slowly at first, hanging my head, unable to look at him. "Takeru is displeased that my Ditto has something so personal as his Kurai strand...."

He suddenly looked as though he'd gotten the wind knocked out of him. "You—no. No. You not only got to meet the Takeru, but you got on his bad side...!? I can't take this any more! You're on your own, Suri. This is just too much." He stood and opened the door for me. "Give me a call when you can have a normal conversation with me."

Tears welled up in my eyes then at hearing his words, but I said nothing, and I did not look at him. I just left.

I returned to the Gym once more to collect what belongings that I would need. Once I had a bag packed, I sat at my desk and took out a pen and paper. I then began to write. After I finished the short passage, I folded it into thirds, addressed it, and left it on the corner of my bed. I did not even look back.

==Author's notes for Chapter Six:

I just wanted to develop the characters' personalities a bit more with this chapter, get them into awkward situations, you know? Just to see exactly who they are....

The chapter title is a song by Assemblage 23: "Drive". "...crushed between the cogs that work us, when I feel I'm slowly losing touch.... Sometimes I drive to run from all my demons; sometimes I drive so I can be alone; sometimes I drive to see the world in a different light; sometimes I drive... for no reason at all..."

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 16th, 2005, 01:04 PM
Chapter Seven: In Your Little Small World

::Sarina::

Takeru sighed in mild exasperation when Suri left. "I don't understand why you put up with that one."

"She's difficult sometimes, but it's rewarding to see someone you've taken under your own wing flourish."

He was silent for a while, brooding anxiously. "You... didn't tell her, did you?"

"Did I tell her why you're so frustrated with Keiji? No, dear. I know and respect my boundaries."

He snorted, grimacing. "I'm not frustrated with Keiji. I used to be frustrated. Now I feel nothing but hatred and disgust towards that little waste of a life."

"You shouldn't be so hard on your other self," I began. "He'll get over it eventually."

"There's nothing to get over!" He bellowed, standing and glaring at me. "What he was born is not what he's become! You understand that he's like this because of what traces of humanity remain in his mind, don't you? He's trying to go back on what he's accepted as truth for the past six-hundred years of his life!"

"You can't tell me that you wouldn't fall apart like that if you found out that you aren't what you think you are?" The irony of my words made me ill—I was talking to a mask—but I knew better than to try to carry on a conversation with a schizophrenic without catering to the idea that their two halves were in fact a single entity. "You can't tell me that you wouldn't."

"Sarina, he chose to make a lie a truth. He obtained the capability to make his life what he wanted it to be, and he used it. He's in denial that he ever had such power."

"Takeru, I've told you—give him time to recover. It's not like Rukuru wounded him. Rape renders unimaginable emotional scarring...!"

"I can't have this conversation right now. Merely talking about those disgraces... it makes my skin crawl." He closed his eyes stiffly and grumbled.

"It's not his fault!" I exclaimed, frustrated. "Do you really have to be so disgusted with Keiji, dear?"

"He's pitiful. You can hear his thoughts—you have to know just how annoying and spineless he's become. I can't take it any more!" He gritted his teeth.

I swallowed hard, having thought on whether to say it aloud.... "Is it just that you're in denial that you're a male in the body of a female?"

He simply stewed. "The audacity," he snarled, his glowing golden eyes furiously wide. "He's not a woman! You know he's not a woman!"

"He may not be genetically female, but have you ever thought that he could still think like one?"

He said nothing, standing there, completely dumbstricken and confused. After a minute he threw his hands to his head, tearing at his hair with a roar, and vanished in a puff of smoke.

I sighed, now depressed, and stood, walking out of the room. 'I wish I could at least get some gratitude from that beast....'

I came to Suri's room to find the door open, and entered slowly, confused at the sight of a note on the end of her bed. It was addressed to me. I unfolded it and read.

Dearest Sarina,

By the time you read this note, you will know that I am gone. Don't expect to see me again for quite some time. I have left to rediscover myself. I simply don't know who I am or what I'm good for anymore. If Tsume Surudon comes looking for me, tell him not to come for me. I will return when I have found some answers.

I know it's understood, but don't worry about me, all right? I'll be fine, Kizuki-sama.

I sighed again, smiling faintly. 'Self-discovery, what a youthful notion.... She's too cute....' I left the note there on her bed, then walked off. 'I wonder how long it will take before she'll come back?'

~*~*~*~*~*~

::Suri::

A month later

A young trainer walked past, and I chuckled to myself. "Kurai, we have another victim. Can you get his scent?" I looked on at the brunet preteen, awaiting analysis. Having a good bloodhound for a pet was always a perk.

She let out an amused, hot breath. Kiddy has... she snuffled deeply for a moment, three Pokémon. Quagsire, Pidgeotto, and.... She snuffled again, confused.

"What? What's the matter?"

Third Pokémon smell like Ivysaur, but Kurai can't tell....

I made a face in impatience. "Is its scent more or less pungent?"

More. Issa Venusaur, she agreed.

"Lovely," I beamed quietly, walking out of the brush after our prey. "Hey kid."

He turned around and looked at me. "What do you want?"

I grinned dementedly, my hair falling over my eyes. "Give me a challenge. It's been too long since I've had one."

He growled at my pride. "I'll show you challenge," he muttered, snatching a Pokéball from his waist. "What's the count on the match? I've got three Pokémon."

"Use all the Pokémon you like, love. But I've only got one." I played with her empty Pokéball in one hand. But he didn't know it was empty. "If I win, I get your highest-level Pokémon, all right?"

He immediately knew that the proposition smelled fishy. "I don't trust you, lady. What'll you give me if I win?"

I snorted, slipping the bag off my shoulder and tossing it to the ground in front of him. The flap that had held it shut flopped open, revealing that it contained hundreds of Pokéballs. "If you win, you can take your pick."

He stared in confused awe and sudden fear. "Wh—why aren't you battling with any of these Pokémon?"

"They won't listen to me 'cause I'm not the trainer that caught them."

"You're sick! Taking someone's best Pokémon and then selling it...!"

"Oh, I'm not selling them, love...." I shrugged, picking the bag up again and returning it to my shoulder, then began to fiddle boredly with the ball again. "So, are you going to fight me or what? You sure seemed hot to pull out your monsters on me a minute ago."

He got that classic, delectable look on his face, the look of a wild Pokémon that somehow knows it can't get away from a trainer's pursuit, and he clenched his fists, afraid. "You say that, if I win, I get whatever Pokémon I want out of that bag of yours?"

I made a face. "Hell, if you'll make your mind up, I'll let you have a handful."

That made his mind up for him, and he readied his Pokéball again, thinking that the fight was worth it. "Pidgeotto, go!"

Heh, leading off with that ball of nothin', are you? "Kurai."

She replied with her simple, cute "chaaa", coming slowly out of the brush. As the bird Pokémon took its shape and his opponent emerged from the shadows, all colour fell from the kid's face. "Kurai like chicken," she grinned, splaying and falling to all fours.

"Th—that isn't fair!" he uttered, shakily pointing a finger at her. "That's not a Pokémon!!"

"It says nowhere in the Pokémon League Handbook that a Ditto has to be in the shape of a Pokémon when it battles," I corrected, chuckling cruelly.

The ten-foot-tall creature smiled at him with a Ditto face and he lost his breath, and his face twitched in fits. The Pidgeotto fell to similar dismay.

He pulled out his Pokédex and brandished it at Kurai, then realized that it wouldn't recognise her as a Pokémon and typed the name in manually. "Ditto, the Shapeshifter Pokémon. Little is known about this creature because it is so good at avoiding human contact."

"Kurai, you have permission to have lunch, dear," I roared, motioning to her opponent with a mad flourish of my hand. "Once you make quick work of the Pidgeotto, remember that you've still got a Venusaur and Quagsire."

She screeched and began to advance on the hapless bird, baring all her fangs in an enormous grin not much unlike that of a Feraligat'r.

"H—how did you know what Pokémon I have!?" he squealed, frantically trying to recall the bird. He dropped the ball, and he glared at me in horror.

I smiled, calmed by his fear. "It pays to know your opponent beforehand."

The crunch of bones and the rip of flesh was heard and the boy wailed, holding his head in his hands as he could do nothing but watch Kurai devour the prized Pokémon alive. Once the act was done, she trilled, feathers falling from her bloodstained mouth, plopping down on the ground. "Kurai still hungie!" she taunted.

"I—I give up!" he squeaked. "This is messed up! You can have my Quagsire and Venusaur! I didn't know people could be so sick!" He threw their balls at me and began to run away.

Kurai started to chase after him, but I held a hand up and closed my eyes tightly shut. "No. You don't eat humans, Kurai."

She cocked her head to one side. "Suri-lady let Kurai eat Pokémon. Why Suri-lady not let Kurai eat boy?"

"I've explained this before. Humans aren't Pokémon. Dittos drink the blood of Pokémon to increase their abilities. Humans have no abilities like Pokémon do. If you started eating people, you'd be a murderer."

"Kurai understand that human not strong like Pokémon. Kurai just sad 'cause humans taste good." She frowned.

"You can't eat just because it tastes good, dear," I continued, the topic worrying me. "Food is for feeding you, not for appeasing your cravings. If you want something because it tastes good, you have to have permission, Kurai."

She whined, returning to her diminutive form before fluttering over to me and perching on my shoulder. Hesitant, she promised, "Kurai not ask to eat trainers anymore."

"Good girl." I picked up the two Pokéballs and put them in the bag. "I thought you were still hungry. Why'd you get little again?"

"Kurai not have to eat right now. Kurai just wanted smell boy's fear."

I chuckled, walking on.

==Author's notes for Chapter Seven:

Chapter Title taken from BlutEngel's "My World", which talks about denial, both in one "rejecting your reality and substituting his own", and also in a second rejecting the first. The former being Takeru, the latter, Suri.

Just to note to make sure: I use five asterisks in a scene break when narration changes and only two asterisks when it's just a scene break. ;x

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 17th, 2005, 12:10 AM
Hot time~! [/Bubs] o_O

Chapter Eight: Yay?

I was working my way to Ecruteak. I was taking my time, though—I was in Viridian Forest, and it was easy to appease Kurai's seemingly insatiable hunger here, considering the sheer number of Trainers here that came to capture the wildlife. It almost made me not want to leave the place for fear that she'd turn on me for sake of silencing her stomach. But, I knew I had to move on eventually.

You see, even though the hormone spike that Sarina had given Kurai a month ago had long since worn off, her metabolism had steadily grown, thus oftentimes making her feel as though she were in an endless state of starvation. I had no choice but to grant her permission to consume the living beings around her. I had previously denied her access to trained Pokémon, but soon found that it took far more wild, low-level Pokémon to appease her. I held a continuous fear that even high-level Pokémon would soon be no match for her hunger.

As I walked northwestward, Kurai napped, curled up at my neck. I felt her stomach rumble and shivered slightly.

"Phanpy, keep on," I heard a male voice encourage.

"Phan," it murmured, its mind elsewhere.

I hurried towards where I'd heard the pair, and looked on as the dark-haired boy followed his pachydermic Pokémon. By no means was this creature large, however, as it only stood about two feet tall, but it was certainly incredibly strong. Its sense of smell was impeccable, and thus was used to root out rare vegetation and ore veins. I figured that this was what the boy was doing.

"Phan!" the Phanpy exclaimed after a minute, stopping. It stiffened its trunk and used it to point at the ground where it had stopped.

"Did you find it?" he asked it.

"Phanpy phan," it agreed.

"Then go for it. We need to gather a good amount of brio root."

After a minute of digging into the soft dirt, it stopped, wiggling its rear end in the air trimphantly as it fished out the plant. It presented its find to its trainer moments later, upon which it received loving attention.

"Great," the boy plauded. "You found a horde of this stuff! This is easily enough to make more PokéChow."

It cooed warmly and rubbed its head up against his outreached palm. As the two of them stood there in contentment, I inspected the boy more closely. Though shirtless beneath, over a many-zippered vest he wore a series of belts and sashes, from which were hung various satchels and pouches. Khaki cargo pants covered his legs. He had a pair of running shoes on, scuffed from use, but not worn to pieces. His face was full of concentration, despite his current mirth. I wondered how such a young boy could be so preoccupied.

"Enough gloating, Phanpy," he began, losing his smile. He stopped petting the Pokémon and turned to walk back up the path. "The other Pokémon have to be hungry."

Hearing "Pokémon" and "hungry" in the same sentence brought Kurai around from her nap and she trilled, stretching while crawling up on top of my head, much like a snake of some sort. There she perched, looking on at the boy and his Pokémon. She cocked her head to one side. "Boy said other Pokémon, Suri-Lady..." she began.

"Yes, Kurai," I agreed, remembering that her stomach was probably waking up as well. "Can you tell what he's got?"

She snuffled around a little bit. "Scent is weak. He already too far away. Kurai can smell a Crobat, though. Crobat icky icky. Easy to smell." She stuck her tongue out in disgust. "Messy eaters. Don't groom themselves, either." She poked her head down to look me in the face upside-down. "We follow them?"

I nodded silently, and she fluttered off ahead of me as I made my way up the path.

~*~*~

North to Pewter we came, where the boy ducked into an alleyway in the North-West downtown area. He entered through the back entrance of a large building, then walked several hallways until he came to what I supposed was a kitchen of sorts. He stripped the hardware from his body and set them on the isle in the center of the room. Once unburdened by this some twenty pounds, he proceeded to dig up pots and pans, and a mortar and pestle, then began crushing the brio root.

He smiled as he worked, that same intense, almost insane look in his eyes, mixing together an assortment of berries and indeterminable spices also. Once these were incorporated, he used his hands to pick up pieces of the doughy stuff, rolling it into balls of about the size of a gold piece. Then, he put each rolled piece into a jar. I looked at the label and mouthed "PokéChow." I arched my eyebrow. A Breeder. Hm....

I wasn't paying attention to how quickly he'd finished off the batch and was caught off-guard. He glared at me, eyes narrowed. "Who are you, and what do you want?"

"I—"

He saw Kurai atop my head and took a step back. "What in the world!"

She took her natural form then for sake of the boy not having a heart attack, then trilled, clinging to my head with her pseudopods.

He instantly calmed down, albeit in a nervous sweat. "Explain yourself," he continued.

"I saw you rooting around with your Phanpy, and got curious. But I'm glad I followed you, since you're obviously a Breeder. I hope you can help me."

~*~*~

I led him to sit with me at the isle, to talk to him. "You see, my Ditto has been having some metabolic problems."

"I... don't follow." He looked at Kurai funny and she stuck her eye-tongues out at him. He recoiled with a yelp. "You'll have to forgive me. This is actually the first time I've ever laid eyes upon a Ditto...."

"That sure comes as a surprise," I muttered sarcastically, half under my breath. "Well, I suppose I should explain that Ditto absorb bits and pieces of other Pokémon in order to transform into them. My Ditto's problem is that it doesn't, er, get full from what a Ditto should normally eat."

I was apparently being too vague, because he was squinting even more now than he had been from the moment I'd seen him. "You're trying to tell me that your Ditto is carnivorous? That's hard to believe, I'm sorry. From the reported natures of the species, I've heard they're very docile and would never harm a Caterpie."

"I doubt seriously that my Ditto is the only vampiric Ditto in the world... what did you say your name was?" I smiled nervously.

"My name is Brock—Brock Morris. This is my Gym."

I blinked in disbelief. I'd trailed a Gym Leader...!

"I—I'm Suri Mazoko. I'm from Lavender." I blushed. "Pleased to meet you. I'm sorry that it had to be on such awkward terms...."

He smiled suavely. "I'm sure it's no problem." He put his hand on mine, which was resting on the countertop. "Do continue, though. You've got me enthralled."

I shirked the affectionate lovepat and put my hands, laced, in my lap. He frowned, but said nothing. "As I was saying, I doubt seriously that Kurai is the only Ditto that sustains itself like this.... If other trainers that have had Dittos have reported them as a nonsustaining species, then it's for fear that Ditto would be persecuted if it were found out. They truly are a rare find, I must say.... They really dislike human contact in general."

"That is a brilliant take on such a situation," he nodded. "I have to agree with you. And I have to believe you, considering that frightening form it had taken on before now." He looked at her peculiarly then. "Fascinating. I had always thought that Ditto had eyes.... I guess it's a mutation isolated to the species?"

"They eat with the mouths that look like eyes," I explained. "The slit that looks like a regular mouth is actually home to its sense of smell and hearing. Ditto are blind, so they move around similarly to a bat or a snake, tasting and smelling the air, as well as comparing sonic waves."

"You are beautiful *and* brilliant, Suri. You know your Ditto so very well."

"Well, it helps that she's picked up English from being around me...."

Up to that point, he'd grown more and more impressed with me the longer I talked; this stopped cold when I uttered that one sentence. "I—it speaks English?"

I nodded. "She only speaks out loud when she's in other forms. She's fond of using telepathy to talk at any time, since she can't really form words with her mouth normally."

"This really is a wonderful creature, isn't it, then?" He reached a hand up to touch her, and she lashed out, biting his finger viciously. "That smarts," he uttered acridly, snapping his hand back and putting it in his mouth. I could hear her coarsely chuckling—at least, what a Ditto can possibly produce to be chuckling—and I surpressed laughter myself. He glared at her intensely, studying the trickle of blood that ran out of the eye-mouth that had bitten him. "You weren't kidding. ....Ooh, that smarts."

"You see, that's my problem," I frowned, plucking her off my head and holding her in my arms. "Her levels of hunger have grown exponentially as the time's gone by. I got her a month ago. She started out being satisfied with a blood bag every few days—but now she's been satisfied only with a live Pidgeotto—or larger!"

All colour washed from his face. "Y—you're the Menagerie Dragon people have been talking about—!" He instantly snapped away from me. "You're the one that's been challenging trainers to Pokémon ante, then letting your Pokémon devour the profits!" He began to worry that Kurai would eat him and frantically grappled at the Pokéballs at his belt. "C—Crobat—!" In a flash of light the enormous bat emerged from its resting place, seeming to hover at the ceiling.

"Brock! She listens to me! It's okay!"

"'She' consumes whole Pokémon—while they're still alive! How the hell is that okay!?"

"That's why I need your help! You have to know how to keep her hunger down!"

He began to whimper, looking this way and that, thinking of ways to escape alive. "That's the problem.... Until today, I had no clue what Ditto were capable of.... I may be a Breeder, but that doesn't mean that I've had every Pokémon at my fingertips!"

"We can work together! You have to be smart—you run this Gym! And you have a Crobat—Golbat only evolve when they really love and trust their trainer...!"

Still he was horribly uneasy. "...Are you certain it won't eat me?"

"I've made her promise she wouldn't eat humans, Brock. Please, help me. I can't go on like this much longer...!"

The sound of breaking glass was heard, and the two of us turned to look. Kurai had made her way over to the jar of PokéChow and had broken it by taking it into her body. It had cut her up pretty badly, but she didn't seem to care. She was tearing into the Chow as though it had been the Pidgeotto from the day before.

"What the heck is in that stuff?" I asked pointedly.

"Brio root," he replied, also bewildered. "It's supposed to cure stomachaches and poison. You don't suppose the Ditto's been eating so much because there's a problem with its stomach and not its metabolism... do you?"

"That possibility hadn't dawned on me...." The two of us were so dazed by the fact that she was eating the stuff that it was hard to carry on much more of a conversation until she was finished. "Kurai?"

She gave a curious "Dit" and faced me, returning to her favoured form. "Kurai tummy isn't angry anymore," she announced, rubbing at it with a peculiar face.

Instantly Brock was again enraptured by her, considering her no longer a threat (though I was hardly going to make the possible mistake that she still hungered). He scooted his stool up to sit next to her, and began to pet her. She purred, sprawling out on the countertop. "It's cute, now that I get a good look at it. I guess I had been frightened of it because I didn't know what it was?" He laughed.

You still have no clue, human, I thought to myself cynically.

"You're a trainer, aren't you, Suri?"

I hesitated for a moment, then agreed to his assumption. "Yeah, I suppose you could call me that."

"I would love to see your Pokémon's capabilities. Could you battle my Crobat?" Crobat seemed frightened by Kurai, regardless of the course of events. It had roosted upside-down in the corner, and occasionally gave her an acidic glare of attempted intimidation. Brock chuckled half-heartedly. "Or maybe one of my other Pokémon?"

I snorted. "Sure. But only if you give me more of that stuff. I have a feeling that her stomachache isn't going to cease with a one-time cure."

==Author's notes for Chapter Eight:

o_O This is going to mutate into a TF until the end of the first book, which will only be a few more chapters. I just needed to get the characters set in place before I got into the actual plotline. I guess you could consider The Kuraitenshi the prologue? *shrug* Deki only just recently smacked this bit of sense into me....

Whisper in the Wind
March 17th, 2005, 02:39 AM
:surprised Becky *uses this name on assumption that it'll annoy you :P *, how dare you not tell me you'd written another Chapter?

I was actually a bit worried from the start that it'd be a repeat of the last one with maybe a teecy (sp?) bit of story development, since from that start it looked like you'd be repeating the "Eatey-Pogeymon" stuff, but it's nice to see you've come up with a way around that. Although 'PokéChow' is a bit of a ">,<" name, but meh, I can't think of Brock coming up with a better name...

As always, I got a couple of laughs from Kurai's naive (and cute) way of speaking.

Also, TFs seem to be the easiest way to develop human characters in a Pokémon world while actually keeping some focus on Pokémon, so don't worry about it ;) [Jesus Christ, I sound like I think I'm a verteran and your a rookie ><] The way it's going it's hardly gonna be a generic Trainer fic.

[Edit]: Wow! That was a midgey "review" >,<. go ask Frosty to do a proper review :P See if you can get on his special list of "Excellent" Writers ;).

Rebecca M. Renfield
March 19th, 2005, 04:33 PM
Rawr, I know that PokéChow is a rather generic term--but, if I hadn't used it, it wouldn't really be a PokéFic, now, would it? You have to call it a PokéDex, PokéGear, PokéNav, and a PokéBall. There are certain terms you have to use to label the contents of a reality, otherwise the reality falls apart. :dead: Ah well, I can possibly get out of getting a nail in the head for it if I say PokéChow isn't the entire label? :nervous:;;

Ah well. Yeah, Kuraitenshi was a Team Rocket TF the first time around, but it morphed into something better from the first book onward. I'm hoping to turn a similar metamorphosis out of it this go ( especially since Giovanni doesn't exist because of Takeru. Poor Giovanni. :nervous:;; ).

"How dare [I] not tell [you] that [I'd] written another chapter?" I'm not that pleased with it at the moment. I didn't realize that adding the battle to the first of the next chapter and going on from there would give the plotline flow a bit of a kink. Ah well. Maybe I can make the battle good enough that it will be long enough to be a chapter, eh? *shrug*

Hawk of the North
March 20th, 2005, 01:46 PM
Holy... wow. That was just... wow. I don't even have words for how much I loved this story. I'll leave you with yet another wow.

Rebecca M. Renfield
April 25th, 2005, 12:59 AM
Took me long enough, eh?

Chapter Nine: Perverted Games

::Rei Takunei::

I leaned over the side of the pool table, aiming to make a trick shot. Some say I've got a poker face, no matter the game. To them, I say life's the game. "1 in the right corner pocket, followed by 2-3 in the left pocket behind me." The 2 was sitting almost sunk in that pocket, but the 3 was in front of the 1, in the middle of the table.

"Oh, you can't make that," the guy I was playing muttered quietly, grinning about it. "I suggest you call different, otherwise that fifty-gold wager's mine before you even shoot." My fuschia eyes drifted over to him, emotionless. He could sense the rage that welled up inside me at his statement, and he said no more, swallowing hard.

I reared back and struck the underside of the cue ball, such that it leapt over the 3 and came down hard on the 1, then rolled backwards to strike the 3. The 3 came to knock the 2 into its pocket, but the 3 just barely failed to sink. The guy snickered at me lightly. His attitude had me electrified, gritting my teeth, and I gave the treacherous lump a telekinetic nudge such that my shot had followed through as called.

He simply stared at the pocket, stewing. "How'd you do that?"

"Are implying that I cheated?" I glared at him. My mouth curled up into a demented grin. "How could I have cheated?"

"I—I—"

With a single hand I grabbed him by the collar, and I lifted him about a few inches off the ground, my eyes burning deep into his, now even with mine. "Get over it and pay up." He instantly threw the contents of his pockets on the table, freaked out completely.

"Dude, get an attitude adjustment," another interjected from behind me, putting a hand on my shoulder.

I snapped around and snarled at him, not letting go; he backed off.

The bartender had seen there was a disagreement going on and came over to break it up. "I'm going to have to ask you guys to leave if you don't stop it right now." Grumbling, I let go of the guy. He dusted himself off, disgruntled. "Good. Keep it clean in here. Just because I serve alcohol doesn't mean that I don't run a smooth bar."

I hadn't complied with the man's wishes because I felt my authority compromised—I had complied to maintain my easy access to the establishment. I didn't like that that pipsqueak had made me look bad. I voiced my displeasure of him with a guttural growl, then ignored him entirely once I'd collected my winnings. He was small in comparison to me, as were most of the humans in there. That's easy to say, though, since I'm six and half feet tall—hardly any match for me. I saw them as nothing more than playthings, something to work out stress—and I had lots of it as of late. I don't know what it was, but I couldn't sleep; and, no matter how much I drank, I couldn't get my nerves unknotted. I would suppose that literally sustaining life with life tends to do that to a person....

After I'd sat at the bar and had another drink or two, I left. I heard rushed, angry footsteps behind me, but didn't care; I simply stuck my hands in my pockets and continued my stroll down the misty night sidewalk. I walked by an alley and looked in there nonchalantly, and spied a Grimer rummaging through the dumpster. I snorted. Such filth, I thought to myself, shaking my head.

I caught scent of someone behind me and the hair on my neck stood on end. It took nothing for me to realise that the guy had followed me to get revenge.

"Hey, you!" he called after me, only about five feet away from me now.

As I turned to face him, he slammed a pipe down at my collarbone; I almost effortlessly caught it with a single hand, every muscle in that arm rippling to defy the idiot's assault; I had my hand wrapped around his so he couldn't let go of his weapon. I glared down at him, gritting my teeth. He yelped, frightened by how easily I'd foiled his attempt to hurt me. I grabbed his free hand before he could back away.

"Ah—ahh, let go of me, you freak!"

I bared my now-prominent fangs at him and gave him a low, throaty growl. Then, I threw down his hands and flashed to grab the collar of his shirt again; the pipe clattered to the curb and fell into the gutter. "People say that I have a problem with my anger," I told him, eyes manic-wide. "Especially when I've been drinking." I snapped my face down into the side of his throat, smelling of him. Taking only a moment for my instinct to have the chance to salivate, I ripped into his jugular and sucked him dry. I left the corpse in the gutter alongside the pipe. Walking away, I wiped my mouth with my hand. Not looking back, I muttered over my shoulder, "I hope you enjoy your meal as much as I did, Grimer."

~*~*~*~*~*~

::Suri::

As Brock led me to his Gym's Arena, we made short conversation.

"Where do you plan on going from here?"

"Well, I was on my way to Ecruteak, but I got caught up in Viridian Forest."

He stopped in his tracks at hearing this and couldn't help but letting out a laugh. "You were going to cross the Silver Ridge on foot?"

"Uh...." I blushed, embarrassed.

"The Magnet Train passes through the mountains, but the only terminal on this side is in Saffron, Suri."

I nodded, unable to reply. I said nothing more until we got to the arena.

The ground here was barren of flooring, and boulders protruded upwards from beneath the sandy soil. Patches of weeds and grass grew in places. But, aside from painted boundaries, the expanse was nothing but dirt and rocks. The ceiling was open to the air, and the walls were painted a dark pewter grey.

We took to our respective ends of the terrain. Kurai fluttered out and perched atop a medium-height rock, smiling coyly at Brock's Crobat. It shuddered, apparently quite frightened of the sheer thought of a Ditto. She "cha"ed at it and it hid behind its Trainer.

Brock laughed nervously, embarrassed by his Pokémon's lack of resolve. "Crobat, if you don't want to fight the Ditto, you don't have to...." It took the opportunity to skip out on the excitement, becoming a flash of light before vanishing into its Pokéball.

"I guess I'll have to use a gutsy Pokémon against Kurai, won't I?" He smirked, pulling out a different ball from his belt, then tossed it out onto the field. "Graveler!" he exclaimed as the creature emerged from a similar flash of light. The mess of jumbled-up rocks stood and looked at us, sizing up the competition. "Rock Throw!" he ordered, trying to catch Kurai off-guard. It would have worked, too, had Graveler been faster; she had just enough time to escape the thing's volley of stones it had picked up from the arena floor.

"Kuuu," she murmured, pouting, now airborne.

It took me a minute to establish a list of potential moves that Kurai's form would be capable of using. "Kurai, Faint Attack!"

She nodded, looking down at the Graveler. I sighed in relief, glad she had understood the order.

Brock knew what I was trying. "Dig underground, Graveler!"

In its own element the Rock Pokémon was very quick, easily avoiding Kurai's attack. She vanished in a puff of black smoke, reappearing where Graveler had been; she tried to slam into it, but instead crashed into the ground. Graveler came up from beneath her in an instant, sending her flying through the air with a squeal.

I cringed. "Get up, Kurai!" She wailed in pain, but managed to comply. She was breathing pretty hard.

"Kurai can't fight as little Kurai. Want be big Kurai, Suri-lady."

"By all means, my dear. Whatever it takes—you know that's how I live."

She grinned, rippling ever-larger until she stood at least at human-height. I wondered why she hadn't taken on her full-fledged form, but this size adjustment would be more than enough for her to overcome the opposition.

Brock simply stared at the stark-naked female before him, and blushed furiously. He was thoroughly bewildered how she had managed to take on such a peculiar form, let alone that her curves bore remarkable likeness to those of a human being.

Seeing just how much this paralyzed the perverted boy, I sighed. "Kurai, synth some clothing, please."

She cocked her head to one side at him, then did as told, a tank top and pair of pants emerging from her skin, both articles silver-coloured. She posed for him, enjoying being a tease, then glanced over to the Graveler and splayed at it. It jumped, startled.

"Your Ditto truly is creative," Brock commented, on edge, "but that's dirty pool, Suri. It's too beautiful to KO!"

"I'm sorry that you think so," I replied snidely. "Kurai, Slash Graveler's hide open, then use your poison on the open wound."

She leapt at it and latched on with her feet and her claws, then gouged its face with her free hand.

"Ah!" Brock freaked out, suddenly swept back into the battle. "Graveler, Rollout!"

It started to roll forward in an attempt to knock Kurai off. To keep from being squished by the half-ton Pokémon, she let go, flying up to the highest rock on the field. When it noticed she'd taken to the air, it stopped its attack and glared up at her.

"Rock Throw!"

"Dive down and dodge those rocks, then get in its face and poison it!"

Kurai fell headlong from her perch, trying her best to avoid being hit by Graveler's attack. She managed to go without getting hit with over three-fourths of them, and latched onto its face again, giving it an enthusiastic kiss, her lips shimmering green with venom. The faux embrace lasted only a moment before Graveler fell over with a rattling groan. She leapt off of her prey, taking a stance of pride at its feet. The rock had corroded away where her lips had touched.

Brock stared intensely at his Pokémon, returning it to its Pokéball with anxiety. "I can't believe just how strong your Ditto is, Suri."

I smiled cruelly. "You might want to take off to the Pokémon Center about now, dear. That poison is stronger than any other I've ever encountered."

He broke a cold sweat at hearing my snide words. "But a Pokémon's health doesn't deteriorate when it's in digital form!"

"It might expire just from exerting the energy to rematerialize from its Pokéball, dear. Like I said, you'd better hurry."

In an instant he was running out the door in purest grief. I chuckled. "Thanks for the help, human," I muttered once he'd left. "You've been inexpensible." Once Kurai'd taken to her smaller form (she decided she liked the outfit she'd made, so she made it smaller so it would fit her in this form as well), I, too, left the Gym, making my way to Saffron City.

Eevee Trainer
April 25th, 2005, 12:11 PM
Awesome I would have given it fan fic of to weeks but im not a moderator.

Rebecca M. Renfield
April 26th, 2005, 03:18 PM
It's already had Fanfic of the Week. ^^; Thank you, though. It means a lot.

Whisper in the Wind
April 28th, 2005, 06:09 AM
The "Rei Takunei" part seemed too random, though I know it served its purpose you couldv'e reminded us of him in a much less random way.

Kurai's speech = Cwute. Brock's reactions and speech = Gold.

The battle was decently done, although it had squash match (I.E completely 1-sided and obvious ending) written all over it.

He broke a cold sweat at hearing my snide words.
Way too anime-like >_<;

Once Kurai'd taken to her smaller form (she decided she liked the outfit she'd made, so she made it smaller so it would fit her in this form as well), I, too, left the Gym, making my way to Saffron City.
Those little dogs that where jumpers (that rich people have) anyone?

Despite this poor attempt at a review sounding like I didn't like the chapter, I did, I'm just very bad at expressing a liking of something.

Rebecca M. Renfield
April 28th, 2005, 11:35 PM
She's going to ditch the outfit sooner or later. Her attention span is so incredibly short, dear! She only did it 'cause Suri told her to; when have you ever heard Kurai accommodate human culture? Hmm? She doesn't understand eating etiquette—why in the world would she understand nudity being improper?

Of course it was a squash match. How could it not have been? Her venom really *is* that potent....

As for Rei being randomly placed.... I tend to foreshadow with REALLY random interjections. :P

Whisper in the Wind
May 4th, 2005, 08:26 AM
You have immense power—the power to change yourself, on every level!—yet you still hold onto what you were born [with?]. You aren't human, you spineless piece of trash. Quit acting like one.
Mistake or intentional?

Anyway. I'm having difficulty remembering all these names >< I keep forgetting who's who. If I recall correctly Takeru is the mental patient type guy... Keiji I don't remember...

Rebecca M. Renfield
May 4th, 2005, 09:09 AM
Takeru's the evil vampire guy.... Keiji may be nuts, but it's the good kind of insanity. >_>;

And no, it was intentional. He was born human (among other things), and that's not a "with", that's a "being".

Whisper in the Wind
May 4th, 2005, 10:53 AM
And no, it was intentional. He was born human (among other things), and that's not a "with", that's a "being".
I meant, did you mean to say: "...yet you hold onto what you were born with."?

It sounds less difficult than: "...yet you hold onto what you were born." in my opinion....

Rebecca M. Renfield
May 19th, 2005, 09:02 PM
Instead of making this a separate chapter, I'd rather make it a splice-on to Chapter Ten. Chapter Eleven will be the last chapter before moving on to the next book. ;x

Chapter Ten: Dissolution of Disillusion

::Takeru::

Can you not get over yourself, even for a moment? I sneered at Keiji. You're pitiful—not even worth anyone's time.

He sighed, melancholy, and settled himself against the padded wall of the asylum cell. "You keep telling me just how worthless I am, but you never even have any reason for it...."

You have immense power—the power to change yourself, on every level!—yet you still hold onto what you were born. You aren't human, you spineless piece of trash. Quit acting like one.

Sniveling, he ignored my comment, unable to form a coherent response.

I can't take this any more! You disgust me beyond words! I seized his body fiercely; with a raging roar, I tore myself from his body. From head to toe I sat up from inside him, standing, my back to him. I could hear him breathing heavily, drained from the separation. I turned to face him to find him staring up at me with exasperation and fear. "What?"

"In all these years... you've never physically separated us....."

I snorted. "No reason to. You're weak enough that I could control you with ease."

He seemed hollow, the look in his eyes possessed and yet lifeless. "You... you aren't real...."

I glared at him in utmost, defiant bewilderment. "How can you possibly say I'm not real!?"

"I made you when I was sixteen. You're a part of my mind, and nothing more. And, because I made you, I can unmake you."

I didn't have any idea how to react to such a turn of emotion. He had never had such strength in his words—I had been the potence in his voice when he'd needed it, his courage, his pride. I was a part of him, but he'd never admitted to it. Flustering madly, I leapt upon him, sharp ends focused on his throat and face.

He flung me back before I had the chance to land, pinning me to the far wall, effortlessly, with his telekinesis. He stood, the anger in his gaze the only emotion in his face, his left hand outreached in my direction, as he focused his strength to keeping me restrained. "You've always told me I was the weak one," he muttered acridly, a vile grin forming at the corner of his mouth; "yet, you've never proven to me that you're the strong one. I say you're nothing but talk, old man."

Rage welled up inside me then, as he said this, and I hissed, baring my fangs at him. I slapped him hard in the head with my own telekinetic force and he recoiled. However momentarily it may have been, it was enough to distract him. I flung him to the floor and leapt upon him, strangling him. "You dare defy me!" I roared, digging my nails into his neck.

He returned the gesture, throwing me to my back and kneeing me in the gut. "You're afraid of me," he chuckled, choking. "I—haven't fought—your presence since I first—made you...!"

"You didn't make me, little one—I made—you!" I sliced his arms off with my kinesis, then sank my teeth into his jugular, ripping his throat wide open. I peeled his hands from my shoulders and took his left hand in mine. I mockingly gnawed on it with a sneer. "I am your very strength of character, and you can't accept that you have no spine."

He regenerated his hands in an instant and leapt to strangle me again, this time with a force I could not possibly comprehend coming out of him. I cried out as my throat collapsed, the sound of him shattering my voice box was the last it made; it was then that I realised he was combining his kinesis with his stranglehold. Seeing my pure, wide-eyed fear of him calmed him, and he relinquished, still atop me. He smiled down upon me, content. "Shut up already."

I twitched. That's exactly what I wanted out of you, bouya...! I uttered in awe. I knew I could get you to get over it.... I chuckled hoarsely, lifting myself only just barely up from the floor. I took hold of his face, kissing him gently. You know I'm real, chiisai. Never forget it. With that, I let myself melt and fall into him, just as I'd come out.

Once I'd done so, he fell to his hands, exhausted. He sighed, content, then stood, dusted himself off, and wandered away, hands in pockets.

~*~*~*~*~*~

::Keiji::

I smiled, completely and thoroughly amused with myself.

Maki walked into the Valley from behind me, curious. "Keiji...?"

"Hn, hey, love."

She seemed frightened by my mirth, then noticed the doll in my hands and choked up completely. "Th—that's...."

My grin couldn't have been any bigger. "Yup." I smoothed his hair down and chuckled. "I guess it's not true anymore that all the dolls I've made are girls."

"But... what compelled you to do that...?"

"Heh." I pinned the fingernail-sized brooch at his throat, then messed with the frill of his ascot a bit. "Well, Takeru *is* a part of me, is he not?"

She was beyond words. "I—I guess that's true...." She got over the initial shock and also grew a smile. "That's ironic, actually."

"Hm?"

"Takeru is the part of you that made all those dolls so long ago, and you just made a doll of him."

"All the better way to embody him, if you ask me. You know just how much he loves irony."

~*~*~

It was about a week after the brawl. Smiling curiously, I came up to Maki, where she sat at her office desk. "Whatcha doing?" I asked asked coyly.

She put down her pencil. "Oh, I'm taking notes from the sessions I had with my patients today." I mused over this for a moment. "What?"

"Oh, nothing...." She gave me that stern, smirking look and I melted. "You never actually made any note that you've lost a patient." I scrunched my nose, trying to be cute and not get her irritated.

When her attention fell back to her pages, I hooked my chin over her shoulder to spy on what she was writing. "I'm still not used to the thought you've put all of that to rest, dear."

"Hn, I haven't, really." I crossed my arms behind my back and began to pace slowly back and forth behind her. Contemplative, I tried to find a way to explain it to her. "Takeru's still in there somewhere. He's just not commanding my life." I bent over and wrapped my arms around her shoulders lovingly.

She stopped what she was doing again, becoming rigid. "Having your lips that close to my neck is still disconcerting for me, if you would return your hands to where they were."

I was horrified to find myself overwhelmed once she'd made it clear to me just where my face had rested. I went pale at feeling my stomach tie itself in knots as her pulse became more and more obvious. Completely entranced, my breathing grew scarcer. As my tongue reached out from within my lips to caress her throat, I knew almost immediately that the Ditto in me had taken liberties with my mouth. I couldn't take it anymore and grabbed her, opening my jaws wide and ready to sink my teeth into her tender flesh. She managed to get away from me by phasing through my hands and falling to the floor. I realised what I'd almost done and my eyes grew wide. We stared at each other in total horror.

You bastard, I seethed in my mind, gritting my teeth.

He'd obviously been paying attention and hadn't helped matters one bit. What? I didn't do anything. He was amused, to say the least.

Like hell you didn't! You can't stand being inside of me instead of on the outside!

Believe it or not the world does not revolve around you, Keiji, he muttered, again bored. That was you letting yourself go.

That isn't a part of me! That's a part of you! I don't eat people! I'm not a vampire!

Chiisai, you're part Ditto. I'm just the one of us that's found there's pleasure in embracing it.

I couldn't react to such a statement. The look in my eyes had to have been scaring Maki senseless from the expression she had on her face. I squinted my eyes shut and turned from her, slamming my head against the wall in angst.

I'd tell you not to take it so hard, but then again, it's you I'm talking to....

Shut up, Takeru.

Why should I? You're the one that attacked me, he fake-pouted.

I don't want this. I can't do this. Even after having seen you murder thousands of times, I just can't do this.

He understood what I meant and so suddenly felt used. You want me to take responsibility for your feral instinct. That would just be too easy for you, wouldn't it? He thought about it for a minute and snorted, growing less amused by the minute. I suppose it's a guarantee that my head won't become dusty in the Valley, is it not...?

If you put it that way, certainly, I snapped coldly. If I let you out, you can't just go around, free as you please. It will be a task, not a game.

You take all the pleasure out of these things, he wailed, pained by the demand.

I find no pleasure in such things, so I can see it no other way. I knew I had to stand up to him or I would most definitely fall apart like I had countless times in the past.

After a pained silenced, he complied, defeated. I suppose that's the way it will be then. ....If I happen to enjoy my "job," you won't hold it against me, will you? I could tell he was amused again.

It's in your nature, isn't it? I can't hold it against a living creature to be himself, you know. That'd just be inhumane of me. I smiled, propping my arms against the wall and looking down at the floor.

Your choice of words, chiisai—! he uttered. You toy with me so.

You wouldn't have it any other way, now, would you, Takeru?

He didn't reply, content.

"Keiji... are you all right...?"

"I'm fine. I tried to deny my own nature and just saw how foolish it was of me." I snorted, looking to her. "There's just no ignoring it, is there?"

~*~*~

Minutes later Takeru was still roused inside my mind, curious and restless. I... can't quite place it, chiisai. I've always known Maki smelled... unique, but....

I was amused by this, oddly, and decided to cater to the poor thing. I walked over to Maki and helped her stand, putting my sharp ends away.

Don't do anything you'll regret.

What, little old me? Seriously, chiisai. I'm appalled!

Wary of him, I held her to me warmly, trying to get a smell of her without her noticing me doing it. "I'm sorry for that. My emotions just got the best of me, I suppose...." I had thought Takeru had just been trying to trick me into getting close enough to her for a nibble, but I, too, could tell he wasn't lying. What in the world IS that I smell?

"Keiji, you know Takeru made me just like you," she consoled, returning the embrace. "I have the same instincts wash over me every few weeks."

He thought on it for a moment before taking any guesses. Your scent is good as mine, but you've never used it like I do. I know what that is now. I've never really paid much attention to it, but I can't believe it. I just simply can't. You know what that is, don't you?

I smelled of her hair again, then frowned slightly. Just tell me, you cookie.

She murmured, amused. "I suppose you're used to blaming Takeru for it, aren't you, dear? In all the years we've been together, I've never once seen you feed. It's always been Takeru, you know? There's no need to snivel over it. You'll be able to get used to it. I did, didn't I?"

I smell Tenshi on her—no, in her. She's part Tenshi. I just know it.

His statement took me aback, and, combined with Maki's rambling, I just stood there and stammered. "I... I guess you did, didn't you?" I pulled her back away from me and looked her in the eyes strangely.

"What's the matter?" she asked me, confused.

"Maki, I never thought twice about how you knew to show up in Ecruteak less than twelve hours after Rivelle died.... How did you know you'd be needed?" Maybe there was some sort of intelligence network among Tenshi, and she'd been informed about it or something. I felt somehow betrayed....

"I—" she was completely flustered from my inquiry. "I had had a dream that had called me there, and I never go against my dreams—my empathy has always given me premonitions. I was living in Mahogany at the time, so it took me no time at all to get there overnight."

"Were you born there?" Fishing for answers that I'd never before wondered continued.

She looked down, sullen, then sat at her desk again. "I actually don't know where I was born, Keiji. I grew up in Mahogany—in an orphanage. My memory doesn't go back much further than from the point I was five years old."

I was dumbstricken by this. "So you don't know who your parents are? How in the world did you get to be a doctor then! I'm more than certain that, a hundred years ago, an orphanage courtier would never have put a child in her house through school, let alone a girl!"

"I was fortunate to have had my nanny see my abilities as a gift, not a demonic possession or something of the sort. She thought I was the most beautiful, intelligent, intuitive creature she'd ever laid eyes upon, and wanted nothing more than for me to succeed. She had a good deal of money from inheritance, but she herself wasn't wealthy. She spent all her inheritance on me, Keiji." She smiled, reminiscing over such kindness.

She purely doesn't have a clue, Takeru uttered, completely beside himself and yet somehow in awe over the fact. In his dumb state he drew in a breath for me, beginning to try to take over my senses and motor skills.

Takeru... I warned.

I... I've smelled that specifically before.

It couldn't be that she's a mother, could it? I muttered flatly. Hateri and Yoake look more like their mother than they do me.

No, I mean that scent—that Tenshi scent, you snide little— He cut off, trying dearly to place it.

Well, you're wrong. You've only come across a handful of Tenshi, Takeru—Sarina, Rivelle, and Rhesh and his children. Which one is it?

He mulled over those I'd just listed off. No, no... it's not any of them. It... it's.... Oh, I don't know! I could tell he wanted to tear his hair out from the uncertainty.

"What's going on, Keiji?" Maki could tell I was talking to Takeru from the look on my face. "What's wrong?"

I stumbled over quite how to put it to her. Irritated with him, I spat it out with a sour expression. "I, um. ....Takeru thinks you're part Tenshi, but he can't for the life of him tell me which Tenshi he thinks you smell like."

She flustered. "I thought you were crying on my shoulder, but you were smelling me—!" she squeaked, her eye twitching. "....Takeru thinks I smell like a Tenshi!?" She was reminded of how Takeru had treated other Tenshi and shivered, upset.

He overwhelmed me then and stepped up to her, holding her shoulders gingerly, looking her in the face. "I've got it," he said silently, eyes wide suddenly. "There was another Tenshi, Keiji," he corrected, aloud. "That woman that Sarina brought with her a month ago.... That little idiot that fed my DNA to that pipsqueak Ditto...!" Rage began to well up as his pride again grew injured over the incident.

"Sarina told me she's not more than 130 or 140 years old," she led quietly, trying to calm him down. "She'd have to have been no more than twenty years old when she gave birth to me, if that's what you're saying!"

"I conceived my first son when I was sixteen, love," he muttered with a bitter smirk. "Age means nothing, for the most part—and the younger they are, the less the counterparts can even imagine the repercussions of their actions. She was probably too young to tolerate the idea of having a child!"

"Even if she did, how can you prove that to me?"

"Tenshi are almost always born with a sixth sense. You don't have a clue where you came from. And you can't forget just how good my senses are." She felt cornered, his golden eyes pinning her in her seat. "It's nothing, really, dear, to be Tenshi. After all I've done to you..." he tickled the lobe of her ear with the tip of his tongue, smiling, "it's not like you'd ever be another Rivelle...." He snorted, then whispered in her ear, "It just surprises me that it evaded me for so long...."

She shoved him off her and gave him a vile look. "Don't you even think about taking advantage of me, you beast."

He laughed. "My dear, you know I'd never do such a thing." He opened his arms wide, smiling generously. "I love you with all my very soul; that is, if you can even believe I have a soul, considering how you treat me."

She was completely confused all of a sudden, unable to read him at all. "I—" She never finished her thought, and vanished in a puff of smoke, having teleported away somewhere.

You scared her away, I seethed.

"No, I think she went someplace to figure out exactly who she is. You've had experience with that, have you not?"

~*~*~*~*~*~

::Maki::

I tried to clear my mind by walking around in the gardens. It was spring now, and the climbing roses that covered the high stone walls and trellises were budding up. It had misted that morning, and I could smell the dew and rosebuds. It was very calming for me. I let my curly brazen hair down out of the high ponytail in which it had been, and unbuttoned the top button of my collar. Picking a rose that had just barely opened up, I smiled and held the golden bud to my nose and smelled of it. I sighed, content, and found one of the benches to rest, sitting and looking up at the sky.

A few hours of just sitting there passed without interruption. I heard a "cha" from overhead and looked to see a small black creature perched atop one of the walls of the estate. I sat up and stared at it curiously, somehow frightened by not knowing what it was. I stood and walked up to where it was, all the time our eyes locked. It fluttered down and perched on my shoulder, snuffling and crawling all over me. It seemed half-reptile and half-mammal, and it had wings and a tail, and purple hair. I panicked when it first landed on me, but it grew on me the longer it stayed. It was so weirdly adorable...! I couldn't quite place why.... Maybe it was just how fluffy its black fur was.

I pulled it off me by the nape of the neck as it clung to my chest, looking up at me with those huge, golden eyes, then cradled it in my arms, smiling. "Where'd you come from?"

It cooed softly. "Suri-lady told me to come looking for a mean man with long black hair. Just now came to Ecruteak—came looking for mean man that hurt Suri-Lady and Kurai!"

It startled me that it had actually replied to me, let alone hear it speak perfectly-articulated, however broken, human speech. It took a minute for what it had said to sink in, but when it did, I got a really sarcastic look on my face. "A mean man with long black hair, you said?"

~*~*~

"I believe this is yours," I muttered, walking up to Takeru with a sneer.

He stared at the little gargoylish creature on my arm and blinked, at a loss for words. "Y—where *were* you all morning, Maki, that you found this thing!"

"Pff, I was in the garden. It flew up to me a few minutes ago."

"Kurai" glared at him with daggers in her eyes. He matched her gaze. I broke up laughing at such a sight, then yelped when he lunged at it, the eyes in his face suddenly popping out and glowing as viciously as his bared teeth were sharp. I backed off when the thing fluffed its fur out violently and splayed at him.

"What the hell is wrong with you, Takeru!?" I squealed, completely beside myself in fright that he of all people would be so turned to rage by the mere sight of something so small and cute.

"That—" he hissed, "—is your mother's Ditto. That—that thing has my Kurai strand...! Look at what it did to such a beautiful creature! It's disgusting!"

She bared a sudden mouthful of toothpicklike fangs at him and he returned the favour to scale. "Suri-lady didn't know giving Kurai the blood would make mean man angry! Not blame Suri-lady or Kurai for having mean man's blood!"

I began to grow more and more nervous by the minute with the two of them in the same room together. If I knew anything, he got REALLY possessive when it came to things of such a matter. Hell, I'd been his wife for a century now, and he never once had even considered giving me a Kurai strand. If this thing had practically stolen it from him, I could only imagine just how violent the ensuing scene would be. "Takeru, stop this instant!" I demanded.

He wagged his tongue at the creature, hunching over and thrusting his wings out of his back, splaying at it in a return of intimidation.

"I SAID STOP IT!" I roared, glaring at him.

He turned to look at me and blinked, flustering, unable to finger quite how to react. "But—"

"No! I refuse to let you tear this poor thing to pieces!"

The fluff got a surge of pride and grinned. "Last time Kurai fighted with mean man Kurai won," it beamed.

I stared at it, breaking a cold sweat. "What."

Takeru snarled at it. "That creature absorbed my base genetics somehow; apparently the species that make up a Kurai have particularly poisonous female counterparts."

The comment went straight over Kurai's comprehension, but it ignored this. "Kurai bite mean man lots of times! Mean man couldn't move!" It giggled at him, but squeaked when he screeched at it and lunged down to grab it, scrambling up the curtains to get away from him.

The creature's attitude was getting to be far too much for Takeru to be able to control himself, and he started shifting completely Kuraitenshi in his fury. About half-way through the transformation, Kurai began to undergo the same changes, taking a defencive stance on the wall, claws dug into the wood. I looked on in horror when the two full-blown beasts pounced upon each other, becoming a flurry of sharp ends, locked together in total, passionate hatred.

".... BOTH OF YOU!" They ignored me. My ears rang in total irritation, then built the resolve to take the letter opener from the desk and slice it across my bare forearm. I gritted my teeth as I felt the blood trickle down onto my palm, and tried to concentrate as hard as I could on what part of me would get their attention. My skin became infinitely smoother and scaly, a beautiful powder blue; I felt my ears taper upward into my hair; but, other than a few rearrangements of internal organs, no other noticeable differences took place. It would have shocked me then that it had actually worked, but I had put everything on the line that it would. Before I had done such a thing the blood of my veins had run crimson, but it now was an almost nauseating deep purple—thick, pungent, and staining.

Not an instant after I'd finished the metamorphosis did both of them stop what they were doing to stare at me hungrily, not even breathing they were so shocked. Their eyes wide, they let go of each other and slowly inched towards me, both of them on all fours, tails twitching behind them. Not a foot from me each of them, I forced a breath of annoyance through my flared nostrils as they drooled over the sheer sight and smell of the wound.

"Kurai hasn't had that since Suri-lady left Lavender..." she whispered, gaze locked on the drop that was about to fall to the carpet.

"If you promise me you won't fight, then I'll let you each have a taste."

The both of them instantly complied with me, returning to their normal forms, and sat there, begging like sick dogs. I sneered, disgusted, and swept up a fingerful from my arm, then, completely fed up, rammed it in Takeru's gaping mouth, leaving it there just long enough for him to suck it off my fingertips. I proceeded to do the same for the dysfunctional Ditto, then forced my Ditto strand to shut off the wound immediately.

"Now then, might we attempt a civil conversation?"

Takeru and Maki (http://www.deviantart.com/view/18513984) o_O

Rebecca M. Renfield
June 8th, 2005, 02:39 AM
And slowly, you come to realise it's all as it should be. You can only do so much. If you're game enough, you could place your trust in me.

For the love of life is a trade-off. We could lose it all, but we'll go down fighting.

And what of the children? Surely they can't be blamed for our mistakes?

And slowly, I've come to realise it's all as it should be. That hiding space, that lonely place. But can the right thing be so wrong? I've found mistakes where they don't belong....

For the love of life will defeat this. They might tear us down, but we'll go down fighting... won't we?

=========================================================

Last chapter of The Kuraitenshi. Those Things with Wings Chapter One will be coming along shortly. (And I apologize to my vet readers for having done a transition-between-books chapter like I always do. :X)

And the title of this chapter is from the opening theme for the first season of Mons†er, called "The Love of Life." Look up the lyrics sometime, if it matters. Great series—little Keiji makes a great Johann. LMAO

Chapter Eleven: It's All As It Should Be

I sent Kurai off to get "Suri-lady" and bring her up to the estate. About half an hour later the woman showed up with her pet on her shoulder, half-hiding behind her owner's head. I hadn't had much of a look at her when Sarina'd brought her to the asylum before, but I got one then, our clover green eyes locked. She was wearing a white button-down shirt, unbuttoned, over a black undershirt, and a pair of jeans. Her dull black hair was relatively short, cut in such a fashion that made it look rather fluffy; it hung just long enough to hide almost completely a pair of round green earrings. The more I looked at her, the more I realised just how similar our facial features were. She was even about as tall as I.

Takeru knew better than to get me angry and kept his distance, sulking in the far corner of the room. She saw him there beyond me and he glared at her intensely.

I shot him a dirty look and he stopped, mumbling under his breath. "What is it that you wanted with him?" I began, taking a seat on the edge of the desk. "The Ditto told me you came all the way from Lavender."

She shook the daze from her. "I—I'm sorry. I'm just not used to seeing Tenshi, I guess. I didn't know you were... Tenshi...?"

"Nor I," I muttered quietly. "I didn't know about it until just recently; I grew up in Mahogany, in an orphanage. They brought me up as a human...." I had hoped that it might spur her to remember—I had to know whether Takeru was actually right about this. He'd already blown away an entire chunk of my reality within a matter of minutes.

"I... I'm sorry...."

I could tell that my words had actually had some effect upon her memory from the facial expression she bore then. "I think it's rather ironic—I could say that I'd still be alive a hundred years later because I'm Tenshi, but Takeru probably would have killed me by now if he hadn't given me a Ditto strand. You know his tendency for Tenshi, I'm sure."

She stared at me, completely bewildered. "And yet you're married to him!?" she exclaimed in exasperation.

"I gave her the Ditto strand so I wouldn't kill her, even if I couldn't control myself," he admitted. "Besides, even Tenshi have a life span."

I glanced at him, suddenly somehow belittled by his statement. After a minute, my heart fell, and I forgot my subtlety then. "Suri, you didn't have a child in the 1890's, did you?"

She sat down in one of the two chairs in front of the desk (it happened to be the closest thing that could have given her balance from her shock). "I... I did...." She understood all of what I'd hinted a minute ago and looked at me solemnly. "I'm sorry.... I... I just didn't know how to handle having a human's child...."

"Did you even love him?" I asked flatly, not looking at her.

The longer it went on, the more disgusted she was with herself. "I... I don't even remember him, to tell you the truth.... Back when I was a teenager, I'd been rather unrestrained in my activities. You were a wake-up call, so to speak. I hadn't gotten pregnant from any of the other men before, but then there you were.... I don't know how long it was before I just decided to leave you at that orphanage. I realised that I'd been wasting my life with decadent ways, and I cracked back down on my genetic studies. This is my first time out of Lavender in a century."

"Heh, I guess you're not the only one that runs away from her problems," Takeru mused, playing with his fingers. "It runs in the family to shove harsh reality out of your system."

Silence ensued as we stewed over his derision, unable to make out whether to pipe up about it.

"You never answered me—why did you come to Ecruteak, Suri?"

"Oh! Ah, yes, why I came...." She snorted, smiling a little. "I don't actually know. I just knew I had to."

"Impetuousity. Yet another way you're just like your mother," he continued.

"Shut your mouth," I snapped.

He rolled his eyes and kicked back boredly against the paneled wall. "Yes, dear."

She simply blinked. "He... he listens to you."

"Of course I do," he muttered. "I love her."

"I'm sure there's much more to it than that," I told her. "It doesn't make any sense to me, either."

"You don't love him?"

My eyes had been on Takeru, but they fell to the floor when she asked this. "I... I don't love Takeru."

"Even though she's a psychiatrist," he crowed, starting to pace, "she treats me like two different people. It's weird and particularly unexpectable—you'd think she'd make us a single entity because we're in the same skull, like all humans would. But I'm not entirely sure whether she doesn't love me." He smirked coldly and looked to me. "She wouldn't let me nibble on her if she didn't like it."

"You're completely different from Keiji," I spat. "I only let you taste me from time to time because it keeps you quiet."

"Hardly true, you lying sow," he grinned, craning over me with a wicked look in his eyes. He pinned me to the desk and locked gazes with me. "Try to fool someone that doesn't know you. You think you fell in love with just Keiji, but you're an empath. You subconsciously knew I was there—just not that we were two different people."

I flustered, glaring up at him with disgust. I shoved him off once I could muster the arm strength, then stood up again and brushed at my shirt. "You don't suppose you came here to make amends with him for having stolen from him, do you?"

"You're changing the subject because you know I'm right," he sang.

Again, I shot him a dirty look, and he receded to where he'd previously slumped in the corner, grumbling.

"I—" She now was the one unable to form a response, bemused by not only the question but the entire conversation. "I didn't consciously accept that what I'd done was theft when I did it. I only cared whether what I did could be done."

"Scientists are all alike," he muttered, feeling like a beaten animal from how I was treating him. "You don't care about how you do what you do—you just do it."

She now was the one put off by his attitude. But, like myself, she couldn't come up with a rebuttal. "I—I didn't think I was stealing!" she exclaimed, defencive.

"Yeah!" Kurai sided.

I pinched the bridge of my nose in annoyance. "I didn't want to get the two of them fighting again, let alone you and him," I whined, irritated.

She was about to speak up in confusion over what had happened before she'd gotten there, but the phone rang, cutting her train of thought off.

I picked it up. "Hello...? Yes, this is she.... Oh, it's you...... I'll tell him.... Yes...." My ears rang as I hung up. "That was Anne. Apparently, Keiji's acting up."

Takeru made a face. "Why in the world would she call you?"

"How *else* would she get a hold of you? She wants you to talk some sense into her."

"Uh, I'm sorry, it's probably not my place for asking, but what the bloody hell are you talking about?"

I snorted. "Takeru's from another dimension, Suri. He came here somehow, and for some reason decided that he'd make the Keiji in this timeline like him."

"She would have ended up a Dragon regardless," he muttered, put off. "Her father found the brooch here, too."

"I am so incredibly lost..." Suri uttered, smushing her face in her hand.

"Go deal with her," I growled. "She's like this because you screwed with her head."

"I didn't think she'd get like this!"

"Stop defending what you did to her and go talk to her!" I creeched, brandishing a finger at him. "This conversation is over!"

"B—"

"SHOO!"

His eyes shot wide and he hissed at me, vanishing in a puff of smoke.

"What did you *do* to him to make him obey you like that?" she wondered, completely frightened by the fact.

"I don't know, actually. One day he decided that he'd start treating me like he's my pet or something."

"I knew there was something wrong with that one," she replied, looking at where he'd last been. "You know, it somehow makes me happy that you're still alive and doing well. In a way, the fact that you still exist proves that moving on was for the best."

"Why's that?"

"Because. If Takeru hadn't met you, he wouldn't have married you. And if he hadn't married you, then he would probably kill a lot more people than he does."

"What a reason to be happy your daughter's still alive," I grumbled, rolling my eyes.

~*~*~*~*~*~

::The younger Toshi, about half an hour earlier::

As I grabbed an apple from the countertop, I looked out the kitchen window. I blinked, staring at my little sister sitting out in the back yard. I was still getting used to the fact that she was my sister—it was only about a month ago that I'd found out that my father had been forcing her to be a boy all these years. Our mom had told us that he'd gone away on a Trainer's journey, but we both knew better now—he'd been committed.

"Mom, she's doing it again," I whined, not turning from watching her work away.

"What's she doing this time?" she called back from the living room, where she was sitting, watching TV.

"I... I think she's building a box or something. A big, black, rectangular box."

This got her attention and she turned the TV off, coming to take a look for herself. She stared in exasperation after a minute. "Go tell her to quit it. She listens to you when she's like this."

I nodded, ducking out the back door. I walked up to her, polishing the apple on my chest. "Keiji... what are you building?"

"A coffin," she replied coyly, not looking to me as she worked at painting it black.

I had been just about to take a bite out of my apple, but stopped short at hearing it. My jaw dropped. "Why are you making a coffin!" I exclaimed.

Her emerald green eyes glanced at me without emotion. "You should know why I'm building a coffin."

I made a face. "I know I should probably know why, but tell me anyway."

"I dunn' feel right sleeping in a bed," she uttered, returning to her work. "Humans sleep in a bed."

"Keiji..." I began, wrapping my arms around her in an attempt to make her feel better. "You're human."

She shirked me off. "You touched my brooch," she hissed, suddenly animate over such a thing. She didn't even care how mussed her hair was—she went straight to coddling the emerald brooch at her throat. "What have I told you about touching my brooch?"

"I—I'm sorry," I parrotted, backing away. Being frightened of a ten-year-old is being seriously frightened.

She calmed down, realising she'd scared me, and sighed, sitting in the grass. "I should be the one that's sorry.... This stupid brooch just overwhelms me so much!"

"I know, Keiji. That's why you're compelled to do things like make a coffin to sleep in, or paint all over your doll with red paint to make it look like she's been attacked."

"I just... I cann' take it off.... I feel so weak without it... like I cann' breathe... like I cann' stand...." She looked at her pale hands, sorrow in her eyes. "I hate what I've become."

I heard someone walk up behind us and turned to find the Takeru standing there. "Why do you hate yourself?" he asked her, crossing his arms across his chest.

She just stared at him. "I havvunn' seen you since I became like this..." she stated, shocked as I was to see him. "How come you came?"

"Heh, your mother called the asylum and I happened to be in earshot. You know, it's not normal for little girls to want to make their own deathbeds."

"You're one to talk, you stupid vampire," I snapped, glaring up at him. He glared at me and I shut up, eyes wide as saucers.

"Don't talk to me that way, boy," he muttered, overarticulating to accentuate his teeth. He then turned back to Keiji, walking up to her and kneeling down to her level. "Why in the world did you start this project here?"

"Why do you care?" she pouted, turning away from him.

"I know you're not doing it to get attention," he began, reaching to put his hand on her shoulder. "Is it?" She shook her head 'no' rapidly. "Oh, come now. Talk to me...."

"Why should I? You still haven't told me why you did this to me."

"....You made my little sister like this!?" I choked out, suddenly enraged. I grabbed the screwdriver that laid in the grass and leapt upon him, stabbing him in the chest with it, then stabbed him again, and again. I tried for a fourth time, but he snatched my wrist before I could plunge it down into his ribcage again. I panicked and tried to get away from him, seeing that I hadn't done hardly anything to him at all, but couldn't escape his grasp. "L—let go of me!!" I squeaked, flailing.

"What have I told you about interfering with my affairs, you little rat?" he seethed, fangs longer in his anger than they'd been. His chest had bled profusely for a minute, but now the wounds had all but completely healed.

"Dunn' hurt him!" Keiji screeched, tears in her eyes.

He didn't do anything else to me, just sitting there, glaring at me, enfuriated. "You don't know anything about this, Toshi. Neither of you does."

"I know enough to understand that Keiji didn't start acting like this until you showed up."

"You know how stupid that sounds! I've visited her for six years now!" He let go of me and looked Keiji in the eyes with a faint smile. "No, You're acting like this because of the brooch."

I rubbed my wrist and pouted, watching him talk with her.

"I... I know that..." she replied, dumbstricken that he was paying attention to her for once. "But what happened to me...?"

"It's called a Permutation," he explained, holding her chin in his left hand lovingly such that she would look him in the face. "I'm sorry that you're having so much trouble adjusting to it, but it's for the best, dear.... You see, it drove your father insane because it gave him the power to get what he wanted, but it also manipulated how he thought. He got to be too demanding, too... psychotic. But you—you're not weak like he was. You can bear it."

I was disgusted with him so completely then. He was toying with the very fate of my sister. "How do you know she can? She's just a little girl!"

He snapped to stare at me again, irritated. "Why won't you just shut up, Toshihiro?"

"Because I want answers, you stupid vampire!"

He growled, closing his eyes shut. "I'm not a vampire, boy. I just look like one." He sighed, annoyed. "No, I guess you never did get the whole picture. In another time, you'd be my big brother." I stared at him, completely knocked senseless from the statement. I just didn't know how to react! "So obviously, since I *am* Keiji, I know what she's capable of."

"B—but you're a man!"

"Don't even start with me." He looked near to exploding how enfuriated he was with me. "I. Cannot. Handle. This. I just can't." He mustered the ability to say it, seeming almost nauseated from admitting it. "Where I come from... when I was her age... I was given the ability to choose to comply fully with my father's wishes. I never knew what it was to be female; I don't want that for her—at least, if I can help it."

"Y... you did all this... just so I would realise that what my father wanted me to be was physically impossible...?" she uttered. "I knew that, Takeru...!"

"Of course it's physically impossible," he replied. "What I wanted you to realise is that it isn't mentally impossible. I became a man because that's what I knew. I didn't know how to be what I really was."

She sniffled, suddenly overwhelmed. "Do I know how to be... what I really am...?"

"I don't know. Do you?"

After a minute of trying to comprehend what he'd said, she fell into his lap and clutched his shirt, crying. "Why? Why is this brooch doing this to me!"

"Embrace it, dear," he consoled, petting her hair. "It won't hurt if you let it take its course."

"Daddy issunn' here anymore...!" she wailed. "Why do I have to do this!!"

"You weren't mentally strong until you accepted what was in you all along. It's too complicated to explain properly, but you have to trust me, Keiji."

"This brooch is in me?" she spat, thinking what he'd said was stupid.

"I've told you before to think about it in terms that it's magical. That thing's so scientifically advanced that it actually has the ability to modify how your body and soul interact."

"You're going to confuse her," I muttered. "Little kids don't understand spirits and stuff. They're afraid of ghosts and monsters and stuff."

"You're afraid of Takeru," Keiji defended, half-amused.

"I FREAKING STABBED HIM THREE TIMES AND HE DIDN'T EVEN CRY OUT IN PAIN!" I defended, brow furrowed. "THERE IS SOMETHING NOT RIGHT ABOUT THAT!!"

"So what if I'm a masochist?" he mumbled, incredibly amused. "You get to enjoy and respect being practically immortal when you've been alive as long as I have."

"You like being stabbed? That's disgusting."

He sneered at me. "You're one to judge. You're interested in Pokémon on a much more profound level than most people would ever like to admit."

I flustered, feeling completely violated. "Sh—shut up!"

He laughed at me, then the two of them vanished. I just sat there and fell apart at that point, completely beside myself. A few minutes later, I exclaimed, "Bring back my sister, you stupid vampire!!"

~*~*~*~*~*~

::The younger Keiji::

From the yard, I found myself in my bedroom with Takeru.

He smiled at me, with that warm smile that seemed so incredibly creepy to see on such a cruel-looking face. "Will you promise me something, Keiji?"

"Mm?"

"Promise me you won't let people tell you how to live your life." He took a necklace out from under his shirt and held it out, looking at it solemnly for a moment. "I think you should have this, dear," he began, slipping it around my neck. The pendant was a golden rosebud. "It's the trinket that let me take control of my life. You seem to need a nudge in the right direction."

"Wh—what's so special about it...?" I uttered, holding it in my hands. "It's so pretty... but...."

He let out an amused breath through his nostrils. "It gave me the abilities of a Ditto. And it can do the same for you, dear."

I simply stared at it. "H—how...?"

"It's magic," he half-mocked, in that way that adults always mock how the young think. "Just hold it in your hands and concentrate on it."

I did what he'd told me, closing my eyes and clasping my hands around the piece of gold around my neck. Moments later I let go in shock, having felt it change shape. I gawked at it—it had opened its petals as though it had bloomed!

"Hnn, maybe now your mother won't tell me to interfere anymore. She needs to make her mind up already whether or not she hates me." He snorted. "Yeah, she'll definitely hate me once she finds out what I did. She won't understand what I did, but sure as Hell, she'll hate me for it." He chuckled over it a minute, then held me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes, thoroughly pleased. "Don't let anyone take that necklace, okay?"

I nodded.

"Do you still hate me?" he asked.

I shook my head. "Thank you," I smiled, hugging him. "How do I...?"

"You're a smart girl. You'll figure it out." Then he vanished like he always did.

"What'd he do?" Toshi asked, finally figuring out where he'd taken me.

"Oh, nothing," I smiled, having already tucked the necklace into my shirt. "You know him—always making more out of things than there really is."

Rebecca M. Renfield
June 12th, 2005, 10:43 AM
People hate my stuff. I suppose I should just get used to it.