Message From Management: Sorry this took so long, but writer's block loomed its ugly head. Added warning, it gets a little bloody towards the end there, and some animals are harmed (but they are evil I promise) but nobody should lose their lunch. Other than that, thanx for all the kind words and crazy love.



CH 15: To Arms

They had been underground for two days when the phone began to ring and the computer chirped repeatedly.

"We got it!" Nate yelled before his face appeared on the screen. His smile grew wider as he took in the sight of Yoshi. "Hey Tully, look who it is."

"Que pasa lady!" Tully was exuberant.

White teeth appeared as Yoshi smiled warmly. "How are you guys doing?"

"Well, we're jacked up on too much caffeine and Chai, but we're good."

She chuckled. "Good to hear. So you found it?"

"Yes ma'am, and we're sending it to you."

Nate added, "you should be getting the blueprints too and the other stuff Colin asked for."

She nodded. "And uh, Gregor said there will be a package waiting for you at St. Ignatius. As for Father Seamus."

"You boys are a god-send you know that."

Tully chuckled. "You're welcome and hey, we've always known we were gods."

"She said god-send freak-boy." Clarion spoke up through a smile.

The boys shrugged. "Call us when this is cleared up, okay?"

"It'll be my personal pleasure." They all waved to one another and powered down the computers.

Colin entered the room as they were ordering the papers. "Good news?"

Yoshi nodded and Clarion answered. "Seems so. Did you get your stuff done?"

He yawned and stretched. "All set. Did Gregor call?"

"We got a pick up to make." He and Yoshi looked at one another and grinned.

"Yes!" He pumped his fist in the air. "So, somebody tell me what that damn thing says."

Clarion smirked as she found a spot on the floor and sat down. Both Hunters waited patiently as green eyes scanned the pages before her. Finally, she looked up at them both and then glanced back at the pages as she began to talk. "We were right about the girl. It doesn't get very specific though."

Colin groaned. "What no, ‘when the moon hangs high on the third day'." He rolled his eyes as the room filled with laughter.

" ‘Fraid not, but I can tell you this, he's not looking for some random chick."

Yoshi raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "He knows her."

Clarion gave a half shrug and nodded a bit. "He may not know how many cavities she has, but he knows her well enough." They all nodded. "I cringe saying it, but he's looking for good stock."

"Probably not going to start a new race out of pimply-faced geeks, huh?" Colin grinned.

Clarion stood up. "They're not going to be Greek gods, I mean look at him." They paused to giggle.

"That fucker's smart though." Colin sucked at his tooth.

Yoshi leaned against the wall and pushed at her cuticle. "She's going to be smart as well, refined even, but clearly a lady." She cut her eyes towards a smirking Clarion.

"Then what the hell does he want with me?" They all laughed as Clarion voiced what they were all dying to say.

"Perhaps he thought his genes would be more aggressive." Colin almost sounded serious in his query.

They were silent for a brief moment until Yoshi broke it with a laugh. "He wouldn't stand a chance." They all laughed. "But seriously, how do we find her?"

Clarion stood next to Yoshi and wrapped her arm around the woman's waist. "Well, we could do this one of two ways." She grinned at Colin. "We could do this your way, and find out after time has run out." She winked. "Or, we could do this my way and find out right on time."

Blue eyes rolled as Yoshi looked down at a grinning Clarion. "And why may I ask is your way quicker?"

She playfully swatted the Hunter's stomach. " Cause they're going to know you're coming pahtna'."

"And you're a welcome mat?" Colin's question got a high five from Yoshi.

Clarion stuck out her tongue. "No, I'm not…but I've got a few favors coming to me, so there."

Light laughter passed between them all, with Colin sobering first. "Say we don't find her in time, what then?"

Clarion pulled away from Yohsi and tapped the papers. "This is the weird part, only because I'm a little confused. The baby is his kid, but," she paused dramatically, "its not endowed with any powers or what have you, until Stolov makes it so. Remember, he is still trying to become Master in all this."

"That's why he wanted you-- less procedure."

"Worst case scenario: he gets the kid and he performs the ritual."

"Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye."

Yoshi shook her head at the redhead. "Seriously."

"Seriously…you pick up that sword and chop him in two."

"Just like that?" Yoshi arched an eyebrow.

"Is it ever that easy." They all sighed. "There must be a balance of purity, meaning equal power."

Yoshi guffawed. "What am I supposed to do, call up Magnus' ghost." She and Colin shared a laugh as Clarion remained silent. Wide blue eyes caught green. "What?"

"Don't worry it's not like we need to hold a séance or something, but it's more like asking a blessing."

"A blessing?" Her tone was less than enthusiastic.

She answered matter of factly. "Basically, you want and need to be surrounded by the same strength and energy that created that blade, otherwise you'll just be thrusting a piece of plastic at him. You'll be calling upon something so strong that it will touch everything around you and ultimately weaken him."

"Ah, only that." Colin huffed.

She grinned. "Don't even worry, we'll practice so much it'll be like you can hear me in your head." Clarion regarded Yoshi and smiled warmly.

Yoshi grasped Clarion's hand and lifted to kiss the palm. "I trust you." She winked at the smiling woman.

Colin watched them hugged and averted his eyes, sensing he was privy to a private matter. "Um, well, why don't I head over to see Father Seamus and you girls take a load off."

Clarion smiled as the embrace ended. She swept a lock of her hair behind her ear and regarded Colin. "You both can go, I need to make some house calls anyway."

"By yourself?" Yoshi's voice was full of concern.

She squeezed her arms as she spoke. "I want to talk to a few folks, not beat them senseless. Yoshi's jaw dropped open as if in shock. "Oh, don't even give me that look. This is a sensitive issue. Hell, I'll be lucky if I get any information, and they're damn sure not going to tell you."

They all attended to their tasks in terse manners, none of them wanting to be caught out in the night for too long. While Clarion searched for information, the Hunters gathered their provisions via the church. Regardless of the information gathered, it had been decided that an inventory of sorts needed to be taken. And while Clarion may have preferred word of mouth, the Hunters knew one way to take inventory, and that usually boiled down to whomever remained standing after the battle.


Clarion resembled an adoring six-year old, as she sat on the bed, with her legs folded, elbows resting on her knees, hand supporting her chin. Green eyes never left Yoshi as she waited for the freshly showered Hunter to get dressed. She popped the gum in her mouth and then spoke. "You know, I bet Lois never got over watching Clark change into Superman." Yoshi looked at the small woman oddly and Colin chuckled as he entered the room, fastening the belt to his leather pants.

Clarion didn't want to take her eyes away from Yoshi, but she couldn't help it. "Leather, Colin?" She perused the man who was smoothing his hair back as she spoke.

He snickered. "Blood rolls off of this a lot easier than denim."

Clarion nodded. "True, true." Clarion turned her attention back to Yoshi and watched as she pulled up the black cotton pants that hugged her legs and zipped them up. The red head tilted her head as she watched Yoshi smooth down what appeared to be her skin. "What is that?"

Yoshi looked up at the perplexed Clarion and smirked. "It's stickies."


"Simplest way to explain it, is to call it saran wrap." Colin spoke and then, ran his hands down what appeared to be his bare chest. "When we have cuts and such, this is the last line of defense. It's like a second skin that we can peel off." He wiggled his eyebrows.

Clarion popped her gum loudly. "Wicked!" They all laughed. Yoshi pulled on her ‘cooler' shirt and zipped it at the neck. "Does that keep the vamps from biting you?"

Yoshi looked at Clarion with mirth in her eyes. "Nah, it just looks good."

"Ha, ha, smartass."

Clarion remained quiet as both Yoshi and Colin donned similar outfits right down to the leather trench coats that they both put on with a flourish. She still said nothing as they moved towards the bags and began removing items. Clarion watched as throwing knives and stars disappeared underneath gauntlets and shin guards. Daggers were placed behind breastplates and darts were sheathed in shoe compartments. The over all look was foreboding and extremely intimidating, if not quite sexy for Clarion. Unabashedly, she winked at Yoshi and blew a kiss in her direction. The dark woman poorly fought a blush and continued to rummage through the bags.

"Well you two certainly look like you're about to kick some ass."

Colin chuckled. "Might happen." He bumped shoulders with Yoshi.

"So do I need to explain the rules here?"

Colin looked at Clarion with a furrowed brow. "Rules?"

"Yeah, you know, about the spooky things you might run into." She wiggled her fingers and raised her eyebrows up and down.

Yoshi laughed and Colin rolled his eyes. "I'll have you know, that unlike some people," he cut his eyes to Yoshi, "I do read up on the places I'm visiting." Clarion smiled, clearly impressed. "Between us, I'm hoping to see some werewolves." He winked at Clarion. "I've got a big hand cannon in that bag full of silver bullets."

Clarion shook her head and smirked. "Good to hear it."

"Can't this just be a nice outing for us?" Yoshi sounded serious.

Colin looked aghast as he looked at his friend. "Woman, I did not come all this way for a walk in the freakin' park. You can call fairy-boy for that one, no offense, but come on now."

Neither Clarion nor Yoshi could hold in their laughs as Colin ranted with conviction. Yoshi touched Colin's shoulder, calming the wild eyed man. "I'm just playing."

He pouted for a moment and then nodded. "I should hope so." He smiled a bit as he himself settled into the joke. "If not, I was going to take your girl here and head for the Quarter."

Yoshi snarled at him. "I'll take you the Quarter." She bared her teeth at him and he mirrored the action causing them all to laugh.


New Yorkers may never sleep, but in New Orleans the party is constant. Yoshi attributed the chaotic wonder to the coming of Mardi Gras, and in a sense she was probably right, but Colin assured her that it wouldn't have mattered if it was a Saturday in the middle of August. It was nearing three a.m. when they walked side by side down Bourbon street, their heavy footfalls blending in with the catcalls and the music pouring out from the bars. In another town, they might have stood out in their black on black attire, leather and chrome bleeding together to create a picture that was both chic and menacing. Most people paid them no mind and if their eyes did linger it was to get a glimpse of the power that they clearly felt but couldn't place. They walked about a block until they made a turn down a darker side street and began to do what they had planned.

In their hey day Hunters wouldn't bother calling out Vampires, they'd simply kick in their doors and lay the place to waste. However, in this present, Vampires seemed to have a reverence for their own lives that rivaled that of the Hunter's. Colin and Yoshi worked on opposite sides of the street with cans of spraypaint. To human eyes the white graffiti was simply a pair of ill drawn eyes that weren't worthy of being spraypainted anywhere. To the eyes of a Vampire, they saw Hetsi's eyes and took it as both a warning and a promise that their time was up. It took them a good ten minutes to finish painting the doorways and dumpsters down the street, after that they moved to the nearest rooftop and waited. Colin's whetstone against his blade was the only noise that either emitted as they waited. One hour would go by, before the night air was broken by whispers.

Yoshi's eyes peered down into the dark below and fixed on the caliginous figures near the end of the street. The language was Aramis and the sentences were short. "They've come." "The park." "Get Lucien and gather." Yoshi nodded towards Colin and they took off together headed east along the rooftops as the figures below them took to the streets and headed west.

Why she chose to sit down in the swings, Yoshi couldn't answer, but Colin certainly didn't question her demeanor. Granted it was cocky and aloof, but more than that she acted with a confidence that he had long forgotten about. He leaned against the pole of the swing set and watched as she carved circles in the sand with the toe of her booth. "You're not prepared to die are you?" In another time and place his question would have been accusatory and hurtful, but tonight his words were supportive.

Blue eyes that were beginning to darken to a cool Indigo cut to a smirking Colin. "Not this night Hunter." She returned his smug smile.

He winked at her and they touched fists. "Good, cause I didn't want to carry you home tonight."

She begin to chuckle softly and then stopped abruptly as the far off sound off leaves being walked upon tickled her ears. She rose slowly from the swing set with her hand on the pommel of her katana. Colin stood beside her and they watched the shadows begin to move. What was at once a group of four, quickly morphed into a gang of ten, and eventually shaped into more than twenty. They were too old to gather lumps in their throats and too young not to feel a surge of adrenaline. "Freaks come out at night, eh?" Colin's voice was low.

Yoshi cracked a smile. "Anything that isn't a Vamp, you take the head."

"All ready on it." With that, Colin drew his sword and begin to walk forward.

Yoshi unsheathed her katana and begin to walk forward and towards the left. "No showing off. Short and sweet." He didn't have to see the grin on her face to know that she was only half serious.

He nodded and then begin to run towards the advancing group. Yoshi only shook her head as she watched two of the group come out and move towards Colin with unnerving speed. Yoshi kept her one eye on the remaining groups that began to split off from each other and her other eye on Colin. They both saw the glint of steel before the swords were drawn. Colin reacted in agile fashion, with a full body-twisting somersault over his two opponents. When he landed he tossed his Claymore from his left hand to his right with a flip of his wrist and came back across his body with the blade, effectively removing their heads. The profuse splatter of blood caught him off guard for a split second as his eyes widen in a revelation. "Human!" He called out.

Yoshi turned her eyes from Colin and moved forward as they word made it to her ears. It was unfortunate, but she had expected as much. It was easy to promise mortals eternity if they could only live through the battle. As she set her sights on her first target, it made no difference if they were human or otherwise…this night they would perish at her hand. Yoshi ran along side the tree line and stopped at a random Oak, sword at her side, and then without any pretense, her right hand darted out into the dark. Long fingers connected with flesh and easily pierced a trachea. The sound of gurgling filled her ears as the Vampire dropped to the ground and within her sights. Even though she clearly sensed that someone was behind her, she still swung her sword down and lopped off his head. Her body twisted at such an angle that it left the left side of her body exposed. Full lips curved into a hint of a smile as she moved her head a millimeter to the right and let the good fortune of strategy play out.

It was not a second later that the left side of Yoshi's face was sprayed with brain matter and blood, as the side of her attacker's face was removed in an explosion of force. Moving on instinct and routine, a strong hand cut through the air and caught the end of the weapon that had been flung through the air. Yoshi twirled the body of the staff and sent the 8 foot Naginata back in the opposite direction. She stood her ground and waited for Chalvi to come to her. "Could that have been any closer?" Her tone was teasing. She turned her head and arched an eyebrow at the grinning Frenchman.

His voice was warm, but a bit smug. "Just wanted you to know I hadn't lost my touch." They both chuckled and then simultaneously ducked as arrows sailed over their heads. "Well, this group is certainly lively." Chalvi's coat whipped behind him as he rolled to his right and swung his weapon through the air, slicing through two arrows and the chest of the shooter. "Classic warfare, I see." He spoke as if he was taking inventory.

"I think their leader has a sense of humor." Yoshi shrugged and watched as he fended off two attackers with ease, removing their heads in one swift arc. "Well, we shall have to kill him soon then, won't we?" He winked at the tall woman and ran off towards the growing group of adversaries.

She smiled as she watched him go and allowed herself to stop for a moment to sense the presence of the other hunters. Her moment of peace was interrupted as she threw a sharp elbow behind her, crushing the nose of the creature at her back. His eyes glowed bright red as he came at Yoshi with anger, teeth bared, and claws ready. She matched his growl with one of her own as she gripped him about the throat and began to squeeze. He tugged at her hands as she drove him back, his feet barely touching the ground as she lifted him with severe strength. Had he been human he would have expired moments ago, but they both knew he needed to be helped along. She bared white teeth and flexed her wrists. His eyes lost their glow immediately as the small knife encased in her gauntlet lodge itself in his throat. She nodded at him answering his unasked question, as she stopped squeezing his throat and jerked her hand to the right. Her blood pumped with a new found ferociousness as she watched him fall to his knees, pale hands clawing at the moist meat and muscle, as his head slowly peeled back from his neck. Yoshi drew her dagger and pierced his heart just to add insult to injury. As he began to disintegrate she wiped at a damp cheek with the sleeve of her coat, leaving a smear of blood along her face. If she could have seen herself she would have deemed it quite fitting.

Yoshi found herself howling with joy as she spied Joaquim spring from one of the trees, with his large butterfly knives moving through the air with skill. He called out to her with a guttural yell as he thrusted the 13" blade through the torso in front of him. He jerked the large knife up and out, piercing the heart and dislodging it from the cavity of the advancing Vampire. The two Hunters acted as if they were in a schoolyard, as Yoshi effortlessly leapfrogged the Spaniard. When her feet hit the ground she tucked and rolled, barreling into the legs that threatened to surround them both. Those that fell to the ground met with the end of Joaquim's knives, the one that remained standing, never even raised his weapon before his arm was sliced from his body. Human screams filled the air as the gaping wound bled. Yoshi showed swift mercy as she silenced him.

"Como estas chica?"

The dark woman grinned ferally, charged by the events taking place. "Bien, hermano, bien." She nodded alerting him to the movement at his right. "Vaminos." At that she left him to his work and moved through the park.

Yoshi was light on her feet as she attacked both human and Vampire alike, showing neither mercy as her katana carved seams of blood into flesh. She gathered the length of her coat in her left hand and used it as more of a distraction than a shield, as she cut down her attackers. A pinwheel of black passed through one man's line of sight, making it the last thing he saw before his torso was split in two. Yoshi was a dark and formidable force that moved through the park, seemingly oblivious to the blood and matter that often sprayed back at her. She found herself stumbling back a bit as she met an overhead blow from a much larger opponent. Vampire or not, he was a large specimen, towering over her by at least three inches; his girth matching his height. He fought with a heavy sword that slammed down hard on Yoshi's.

She grunted with force as she gripped her sword with both hands and pushed up. When she made it to her feet, she found herself staring into his massive chest. He swung his sword down again, and she blocked it, holding him at bay with raw energy. Yoshi let out a growl as she pushed against him and swung her foot at his kneecap. Her heavy boot connected with the bone, crushing it, and sending him to the ground. Blue eyes were wild and wide with lustful rage, as she sliced through his skull without the usual precision. Leaving jagged edges as one half of his skull left the other. The Hunter spat on the ground as she stalked off in another direction, her katana held out at her side, the sharp edge slicing through blades of grass, and silently daring anyone or anything to approach her.

Yards away, Colin was enthralled in his own skirmish. He caught sight of Yoshi out of the corner of his eye and he was invigorated at the sight of her. He made quick work of the task before him so he could watch her as she moved through the clearing. The wind seemed to rush up to greet her, only to pass around her-- billowing out the black of her coat and the sable of her hair. He was so caught up that he didn't register the bat until it slammed into his back. He fell to the ground on reflex and steeled himself for the coming blow. He heard the solid thwack of bones breaking and then realized that they weren't his. He moved aside and could only smile at the large axe sticking out of his would be assailants back.

"Drunk on the job are we?" A heavy Scottish accent fell to Colin's ears.

From his seat on the ground he held out his hand. "Didja' expect anything less?"

The standing man reached down a large hand and helped Colin to his feet. "I expected you to save me some, you lush."

Both Colin and the men laughed as the clasped forearms. "Hamish, you dog. Always on time."

"Cause you're an idiot." Hamish sneered playfully and retrieved his throwing axe. He unsheathed the other and flourished both axes.

Colin took notice of the shine of the steel that was not dulled by the blood and bone. "Those new?" He took in the steel of the axes that spanned 8 inches across. The metal was fastened to the wooden arm with Titanium bolts, and appeared to be flush with the handle. Sprouting from the back were two flame-shaped tendrils of steel.

Hamish smiled at his weapons like proud father. "Not new…only waiting for a special occasion." He grinned and looked down at Colin whom he towered over at nearly seven feet tall. "So, I'm kind of pissed this isn't more exciting." He rolled his eyes and swung an axe to his right side, embedding it deep into the gut of an approaching man. He removed the axe and kicked the man over, turning up his nose. "Human?" Colin could only nod, his heart slightly heavy with sadness, but more with disgust. The large man shrugged. "Pity." With that he swung the axe down, cleaving the man's face with force.

They were outnumbered ten to one, but the Hunters proved their worth and lived up to their own folklore. At 6'3" and 240 pounds, Ohai' resembled a linebacker--but he moved with all the grace of a dancer, as he brandished his broad sword and fended off the vapid creatures advancing on him. Just as he was about to be overtaken in a tumble of arms, the lanky African made his presence known. Zibu jumped from the trees, kama in his right hand, tonfa in his left. The onslaught the quick stabs and fierce jabs were enough of a distraction for Ohai' to gather himself. "The head Ohai'!" The command rang out from somewhere behind him, but he didn't question it as both he and Zibu attacked their aggressors. The two gave each other high fives and then ran off together to join the fray.

Silver eyes watched from the high perch of the arms of a Weeping Willow. Lucien spit time and time again, but he could not rid his mouth of the foul taste. He was disgusted by what he was seeing, but happy that he had not sent his best out tonight. He raised an arm in signal to his cohort across the way and waited. He heard the rushing of the feet before the Hunters. Makeet was reeling in the 16 feet of rope that made up his javelin when he saw them. "Lupo!" He yelled. Again he shouted, this time in English, "Wolf!" They had all heard him the first time, but they all notice the second. The pack of wolves numbered twelve and they moved hard and fast, rushing towards the Hunters. It was hard to tell from far away, but as the wolves came near, the metallic eyes and large fangs denoted that they had been tainted with Vampire blood.

Yoshi found herself very nearly performing a backbend as she avoided the leap of a wolf. She right herself quickly, tossing a throwing knife in the direction of a Vampire and then running the wolf through with her other hand. "They can't be spared!" She called out to the others. What had been a model display of technique, quickly dissolved into chaos. Zibu found himself on his back with his forearms blocking his face from the gnashing teeth of a wolf. A fanged tooth pierced the leather of his gauntlet but sank no further as Ohai tackled the beast to the ground and swiftly snapped its neck. The Hunters quickly became aware that both man and beast alike surrounded them. "Can we kill the fuck who bled these dogs?" Ohai spit out the sentence with disgust as the Hunters began to gather together.

Yoshi glanced at the youngest of the Hunters and nodded. "I'll point him out to you." On instinct the Hunters moved as one and formed a tight circle, their backs and shoulders against one another. The ten stood strong as they had a 360 degree view of the clearing. "Everybody here?"

As usual, Tristan's Aussie accent cut through the silence. "Nowhere else to be." He flourished his Rapier and nudged Hibald. The smallest of all of them at a mere 5'5", he carried a 50" axe, which was the heaviest at five pounds. He twirled the Volgue and grunted his reply. They all followed suit until it was only Yoshi who remained. Technically it was her age that made her their general. The scribes would point out her flair for strategy and her confidence, but those that surrounded her and followed her, pledged their devotion because there seemed to be no other choice. She had once been and still was what they all aspired to be, and that was simply a warrior in the purest sense. Yoshi used her free hand to whip away the damp tendrils of her hair so she could take in everything around her.

"Okay boys, just like drill."

"North." Zibu called.

"South." Tristan sang out.

"West." Hamish bellowed.

"Makes me East." Yoshi grinned wildly and slashed at a cocksure Vampire that moved towards her.

"You gonna use that thing or not?" Colin turned his head to the right and looked at Yoshi.

Her eyes grew wide with an almost girlish glee. "Almost forgot.." She sheathed her katana and then reached back to pull out Magnus' sword. "Got a surprise boys." The sword had the effect she wanted as their adversaries all began to step back a foot or two at recognizing the sword.

Tristan turned his head to get a look. "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle."

"You are!" They all responded.

Yoshi chuckled. "Just like practice. Open the circle and the pull in the corners. Not a thing leaves this field unaided."

"We got twenty minutes till first light." Ohai being the time keeper added.

Yoshi curled up her lip as she mumbled out, "good." She let out a low howl that gathered force as the other Hunters joined her. At the peak they opened the circle so that they were no longer shoulder to shoulder, but the form still remained. Lucien continued to watch from his perch and was more than impressed by the well-choreographed strategy. The Hunters moved as one unit-- every side armed and protected. Together they moved to the corners, starting from the south moving north then west and finally east. The Hunters resembled a massive band saw as they sheared and sliced their way through the advancing Vampires and beasts.

Nothing was spared as body parts were removed with impunity. Jugulars were opened, eyes gouged, bowls split and heads sailed. The onslaught lasted for nearly five minutes with each Hunter painted red by the time the last of their opponents fell. Only a handful of humans and Vampires remained in the periphery, but none dared moved towards the Hunters. It was Yoshi who broke formation as she saw Lucien standing a 100 yards away, sword at his side and menace in his eyes.

"Finish the rest, I've got a debt to settle." Blue eyes that appeared to be black stayed focused on the smiling demon as she marched off towards him. She wielded Magnus' sword as if it were a baton--tossing it from her right hand to her left and swinging it through the face of a man to her left. She stopped when she was two body-lengths away from Lucien.

"My, my, my someone's been eating their Wheaties." Lucien remained cocky even as the threat of death entered his line of sight. "Cher, it would be my pleasure to take you down in all your glory. I must say, red is definitely your color."

"You want to fight or write me a letter?" Her voice was deep with rage.

"I suppose we should make this quick-- I'd like to pay my sister a visit."

Yoshi smiled lasciviously. "Bet you would."

He rolled his eyes and they both swung their swords. The impact of Magnus' sword rang out loud as Lucien spun hard to his left from the force. Yoshi wasted no time in attacking -- sending a heavy kick to his ribcage. The svelte man flew back a foot and quickly rolled to his feet. The hunter was upon him fast, swinging her sword down with both hands and knocking the sword from his grasp. She left him no time to react as she brought the blade back, removing his hand in the process. Lucien was all screams as he fell onto his back clutching the ragged stump that now ended his arm.

Yoshi raised her right leg and brought it down hard on his kneecap, crushing the bone. He hissed in pain as spittle began to gather at the corners of his mouth. It was all she could do to only smile as he begin to bargain for his life. His eyes returned to a human shade of gray as his features relax and his fangs receded.

"You can't win Hunter." He spoke through gasps. "It's too far gone." She stomped down on his other knee. "Fuck!" Yoshi gripped the sword with both hands and held the sword above his head so that it pointed towards him. "Wait, wait! What about Clarion?"

The dark woman paused for a moment as the scowl on her face disappeared and her eyes began to bleed blue again. "She has a message for you." Her voice was warm like a mother with a newborn. Lucien grinned. "She wants you to be at peace."

He chuckled. "Leave me be and I will."

"That's what I said." She shrugged. "And then she said," Yoshi paused as if she was recalling the exact words and then in a perfect imitation of Clarion's light Louisiana accent she continued, "Nah-- let ‘em rot in Hell." Lucien's eyes grew wide as he took in the massive blade and he could do nothing but follow its descent as it plunged into his heart. Yoshi forced the blade through his body until she pierced the earth two feet below him. She dropped to one knee and looked him straight in the eyes--watching as the life drained from his body.

Yoshi towered over his rapidly decaying body as she stood to her full her height and proceeded to yank the sword out of his chest. She pulled the sword in tight to her body as she held it with both hands and gave into the sweet tremors of battle lust. Her heart pounded against her chest cavity as if it was desperate to get out. Her nostrils filled with the scent of blood and death around her and her ears rang with the anguished calls of death. She did not shy away from the intensity of her rage or the elation of her triumph. Yoshi took a deep breath and let her head hang for a brief moment as she let herself be exhausted for moment and then she did the only thing she had right to do--and that was to be triumphant. She cried out not in pain, but in relief. The Hunters around her were not startled or surprised, but urged to expand their own lungs in acknowledgment of their feat.

Yoshi raised the large sword above her head and swung it in a large circle twice, before resheathing the weapon. First light was upon them and whatever remained alive would not make it to safety before dawn. One by one the Hunters began to disappear into the tree line, separating from one another for security purposes, but all knowing where to meet. Pink was beginning to fuse into orange as the Hunters all made it to the clearing near the swamp. Colin went and pulled at the hatch in the ground only to find it locked. He turned towards Yoshi in confusion.

She grinned. "There's another." Colin nodded and fell into line behind the others. Yoshi dropped into the hole first and they all followed suit. Upon their feet hitting the concrete it was quite obvious why they had entered this way---it led straight to the shower. Colin chuckled and looked to Yoshi as he beginning peeling off his clothes. "I think someone doesn't want us to track up the house."

Yoshi smiled. "Have you seen yourself lately?"

"You're no designers dream either Yosh." Joaquim added.

"I don't know, I heard fall was going to be lots of red this year." Tristan rolled his eyes as he put in his two cents. The Hunters filled the room with laughter and began to make their way into the all ready steamy shower.

Colin tried to hog two showerheads as he stretched out his arms and leaned against the wall. He let out an orgasmic sigh as the hot water streamed down his back. "Oh my god, I love that woman."

Yoshi rolled her eyes and shoved the man out of the way. "Keep it to yourself boyle." They both laughed and returned to the task of cleaning.

The white tiled floor quickly became a sea of red as body suits were peeled off and hair was washed clean. If possible, even the steam in the room seemed to be tinted a faint shade of red. Hamish crossed the room to stand next to Yoshi, clapping her on the back when he made it there. "Good to see you, girl." He pinched her cheek and she shoved him off playfully.

"It's good to see you too, you beast." Her eyes were warm with sincerity.

"Can we please save the emotional chats for the dinner table," Chalvi huffed. "I have no want to see naked people bonding in showers."

"Unless it's you and one of the boys from the GAP ad," Tristan quipped with a raised eyebrow, "Oh, wait, that's me." His comment garnered a round of laughs from the lot of them. The laughter grew stronger as Chalvi lanced Tristan on the calves with a towel. They began to turn off the water as the horseplay became infectious and they all found themselves involved in pushing and shoving.

The light clearing of a throat alerted them all to someone else's presence. "I take it you all are hungry then." Whether she did it on purpose or not, Yoshi couldn't help but stand up a bit straighter as she laid eyes on Clarion, who stood in the entrance to the room. She wore loose-fitting grey jersey pants that tumbled over her bare feet and a ribbed tank top. Clarion smiled politely, but there was nothing polite in her eyes as she took in the dark woman in the center of the room. "I got you a couple presents Colin."

He clapped his hands. "Sweet Jesus it's beer."

Clarion smiled, but kept her eyes affixed to the Hunter. "You going to introduce me to your friends?"

Even though her mind was reeling with thoughts of herself and a certain woman, somehow Yoshi found her voice and spoke. "Everybody…this is everybody." She shook her head. "I mean Clarion."

The red head smiled. "Real smooth there Samurai."

The taller woman shrugged and began to walk towards Clarion, oblivious to the confused and concerned but mostly amused looks on the others faces. Yoshi stopped abruptly an arms length away from Clarion as she registered the look on the smaller woman's face more than the words that came from behind her. Yoshi tightened the towel around her waist and spun around to face Zibu.

He spoke again. "It is sacrilege to make your bed with a demon." He spat out his words in Yoshi's direction but steeled his gaze on the grinning Clarion.

"Don't worry we usually never make the bed." She answered him in the Greek they were taught in the commune.

Zibu scowled. "Yoshima you must answer, what is the meaning of this?" Zibu's voice was amazingly strong as he looked in the dark woman's direction. He understood it was a mistake to question her, but he only began to realize how severe, as she turned ice blue eyes in his direction. Even Ohai' who always came to his side, had to stand aside this time.

"You question me, Zibu?" Her tone was just short of mocking. He couldn't seem to find his voice and she moved closer to him. "Answer me."

Zibu straightened his shoulders and swallowed the lump in his throat. "This is not right, I think you've been gone too long. There are rules and law."

Yoshi's eyebrows raised in shock. She made to move towards him, but Makeet entered her path, not daring to touch her, but being visible. She kept her fists at her sides and sneered at Makeet. "Stand down, Makeet."

"Move boy." Hamish put his hand on Makeet's shoulder.

Yoshi remained where she was and Colin let out a small whimper of relief as he kept an eye on Clarion. "Rules, Zibu? Rules." Her voice grew louder with each word. "You want to talk to me about laws."

The African set his jaw and stood his ground. "You mistake my youth for naivete. I know what the books say, this can not be done, you soil us all with her kind."

Clarion rolled her eyes and looked to a groaning Colin. "Soil?" She spoke the word mostly to herself.

Zibu pointed towards the smirking woman. "She mocks me and you let it pass. Yoshi, we can't have any part in this." He pounded his fist into his hand. "There are rules and laws and you know it."

They room grew deathly still as they all waited for Yoshi to explode, but instead she chuckled in disbelief. "Laws? Laws." She shook her head and smiled. "I am the law!" The boom of her voice threatened to shake the walls. "Who are you to speak to me of rules and law! You know books and writings that were long dead before you even walked the earth. How dare you speak to me of law and councils. You want a council Zibu?" She waved her hand about the room. "This is the council! We're all that's left and I am the final word here…now and always." She moved towards Zibu so that only an inch of space separated them and spoke through clenched teeth. "You will not ever presume to tell me how to live my life. You have no idea what is happening around us and you have no right to question me. And I promise you, you can sooner fall on your sword than disrespect her or me. Are we clear?"

Zibu swallowed and stepped back as Yoshi did the same, her hand immediately finding its way to Clarion's hand. "I hear you…I do not agree, but I hear you."

Yoshi opened her mouth to start a tirade but a hard tug on her hand pulled her back and gave Hamish room to move between Yoshi and Zibu. "All right, enough! Look, I don't really give flying fuck who's the law and who's naive and who's got bigger balls and what not. What I do know is that I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, and I'm tired." Hamish looked towards Clarion and smiled. "Now I don't care if this wee girl is the Queen of the Harpees, she's cleaned me, probably going to clothe me and I know she's going to fill my belly and give me a place to lay my head." He winked and turned back to Zibu. "Z, I respect you, but there's a lot you don't know and if we don't get through this you're never going to know. And let's be honest I don't think we're in a position to picky." Hamish clamped a large hand down on Colin's shoulder. "Now, I don't know about the rest of ya', but me and this one have got a fine date with a keg of beer. If you two want to spit on each other and see who can make the other cry, fine, but you do it at the dinner table like you're supposed to." Small chuckles rose from the group. "Seriously, Z, this is no time to pick a fight, so just let it be. Besides, I'm sure there's a story here." He turned towards the still scowling Yoshi and grinned at her. "C'mon let's eat."

Hamish began to move towards the entrance and he stopped where Clarion stood and looked down at the small woman. "I'd kiss your cheek but your guard dog here might rip my lips off."

Clarion blushed profusely. "I'd kiss your cheek, but I don't think I can reach that high."

Hamish chuckled and then bent a bit at the waist. Clarion giggled and wasted no time at placing a chaste kiss on his cheek. Hamish stood and walked from the room with an added skip in his step. They all continued to file from the room, each stopping to tip imaginary hats or bow in her presence. Clarion had to fight to gather her composure as Zibu began to make his way from the room. He stopped in front of Clarion and ignored Yoshi's hard stare. It was Clarion who spoke. "If you eat first, it will be easier to apologize." Zibu could find no malice in her words, so he only nodded. "Besides, she'll be too tired to want to fight you." Clarion winked at the man and watched him exit the room slightly confused. Clarion stood still, holding Yoshi's hand as she watched the woman visibly relax. "Just you and me again."

The words were like cool rainwater to Yoshi's ears. She turned around and faced the smaller woman, embracing her strongly. Clarion held on to dear life, realizing that Yoshi needed the contact more than anything. Clarion squirmed a bit as Yoshi nuzzled her hair sending a tickling sensation down her spine. Yoshi pulled back, concerned. "Did I hurt you?"

Clarion shook her head. "Just gave me butterflies that's all." She raised her head and brushed her lips against the Hunter's. "You okay?"

"Almost perfect." She hummed out.

"Well we need to get you to perfect." The redhead wiggled her eyebrows and was swiftly rewarded for her suggestion as Yoshi leaned down and captured fleshy pink lips that been neglected too long. The Hunter's kiss was all passion and force and it was pure pleasure for Clarion to give in. They pulled away from one another in need of air. "I suspect that's a bit closer?"

Yoshi pursed her lips. "Not even close."

Clarion laughed out loud and pushed the Hunter away. "Go change and eat, you tease."

Yoshi rewrapped her towel as she walked to the door. "Coming?"

Clarion ran a hand through her hair and nodded. "Just want to make sure the drain is open and I'll be up." Yoshi smiled warmly and waved. Clarion was all smiles as she waved back and watched the woman go. When Yoshi was out of sight, the smile dropped from her face as Clarion clutched her side. It was all she could do to keep from screaming out in pain at the severe cramps rolling through her body. She staggered from the room and stood over a bin of bloody clothes. Clarion stood over the bin for nearly a minute and simply breathed. In and out, long and deep breaths. She was praying the scent was enough to calm the fever on her insides. She was counting on it to be enough. She took one last breath and stepped back, wiping the sweat from her brow. "Get it together Larieux. Let's just get through this and we can deal with your appetite later." She patted her cheeks. "You're okay kiddo." She let out a breath and moved down the hall as if she feared being chased--never once considering the fact that she was being watched.

"Hey!" Colin's voice rang out through the dark. "You coming to eat or not?"

"Yeah, I just forgot something that's all." The woman's voice was low and tight.

Colin looked to the woman with concern. "You okay Yosh?"

The dark woman managed a smile as she tousled her hair. "I'm cool, just tired I guess."

He smiled as they began walking down the hall. "Well, come eat-- that girl of yours has fixed us a fine meal. And gotten us some fine beer." He wiggled his eyebrows.

She smiled. "My girl, huh. The words were almost inaudible.

"Put some clothes on you freak, and at least eat something." She mustered a smile for her friend and watched him walk off.

Yoshi did as she was told-- putting on her clothes and coming to the dinner table. She went so far as to put on a happy face and act as if nothing had happened. It was easy, so easy that she really did begin to forget what had happened. She laughed at the jokes made at her expense and shared her war stories freely. In the end, it turned out to be a good idea to just tuck away the nights' events and worry about them later. Especially, when green eyes looked to her with love and need. She and Clarion disappeared from the table not worried if they would be missed and tended to themselves.

They made love that night filled with a silent need that neither felt ready to voice. Clarion was ravenous in her attack upon the dark woman, giving neither of them time to even breathe let alone feel emotions. This was purely about need--and Yoshima could do nothing but give into the will of the woman who lay atop her. They lay there for what seemed like hours, but may have only been minutes--wrapped in each other. Yoshi, held Clarion to her as she trembled with release for the last time. They lay as one-- fused together by sweat and the rhythm of their heartbeats--not changing their positions.

Yoshi caressed Clarion's back as she hugged the smaller woman to her, pretending not to notice the tear drop that cooled her neck. Yoshi's lips rested just at Clarion's ear and she spoke. "I love you, Clarion." The red head made no movement, but Yoshi sensed the spill of her tears before she felt them. It was not a pouring out, but only the betrayal of tear ducts. Yoshi waited a beat and spoke softly once more, "Clarion Larieux, I lay down my blade." Clarion's heart too played traitor as it skipped a beat at Yoshi's words. They both knew what was to come-- as if it had been said yesterday, and not what seemed like a lifetime ago, in the catacombs of a graveyard, both angry and scared. Yoshi held fast to Clarion as the smaller woman squeezed back and then she continued. "I kneel at your feet to beg forgiveness an to beg of your mercy. In this as in all things my life is yours. I pledge you my honor, my skill, my duty, my core, all that I am, from whence I came to wherever you lead. As it is and as it should be, from beginning to end, alpha and omega: I give you my blade."

A reverent silence pierced the air after Yoshi finished speaking and it would remain that way for the rest of the night. It wasn't that they weren't willing to speak or had not the power--it was merely irrelevant. Just as time and space had no meaning in the moment, their voices were cursory. They existed only for one another in that place. Their thoughts would be quiet this night, as what lay before them was as dark and treacherous as a starless mountain road at night.

* * *

part 9

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