The Ruling of Fortunes
By Andrew Joshua Talon
Disclaimer: None of the mentioned fandoms are in anyway my possession. I am not writing this for profit.
"Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror,
victory no matter how long and hard the road may be;
for without victory there is no survival."
~Lord Winston Churchill
The pounding air that signaled an approaching salvo went forth, stirring the atmosphere before it like a knife through butter.
The barren landscape, desolate and ruined, war torn and humbled, shook once again as the attack commenced. The last hill for the fugitives was soon to fall.
It was a proud captain who stood by his artillery, resembling ancient smooth bore cannons of the olden years of war. But with a signal of fire from it's mouth, all thoughts of powder and ball were dispensed. A bright beam of light struck the hill, and in the cloud of dirt and debris the earth moaned in pain.
The captain nodded in satisfaction to his troops, busily recharging their weapon. He looked down upon his black and gray uniform, resembling reptilian skin in it's texture. It was a bodysuit, built to add to the endurance of the wearer and yet nothing more. Comfort was something long abandoned by this leader's people. Atop his shoulders, bright red paint signified his rank. Other troops, much the same attired though without the badges of privilege, wielded hard, polished marble gauntlets, with a jewel imbedded into each one.
The captain barked an order, which in the tongue of this writing would read," Company, advance!" And with a fearsome group howl, his troops leapt foward, advancing in a leap-frog style maneuver passed down from generation after generation of combat. The artillery struck again, cutting a deep gash into the side of the hill. The ground troops crossed over the vanquished hill, unleashing a storm of ultra-violet blasts into whatever lay behind. After a time, and a silence, one of the troops screamed back, hissing and snarling,"They are gone, sir!"
And to that, the captain growled. He glared into his artillery section, all looking rather distraught. Finally, the captain waved his arm forward, and the entire company set out.
The creatures were best described as gaited men, hunched forward like an ape, with skin of a rather simple pallor. Some might call it off-white, others tan, and still others a peach, but all in all this was their skin, soft and pasty. Their eyes were a dark black, without iris to define it, and atop their heads the style of it varied, from short feathery black hair to bald and shining. Other than that, they were fairly unremarkable entities, and back in their original home they would have been perfectly happy to proceed in any such niche their nature would call them.
But such is not present here, unless these beings turned to conquest. And given the scene presented, it seemed that this indeed was their goal.
"Run, Shinobu, run!" A young man of perhaps seventeen was rushing, one of his hands gripping a rusted sword, and the other dragging a frightened young woman of fourteen or fifteen. The man rushed from outcropping of cover to outcropping of cover, keeping his movements as random as possible. He snorted as his keen ears detected his predator's pursuit.
This young man, ironic considering his foes, was markedly un-human. His long white hair failed to conceal two long, dog-like ears. His eyes were a bright blue and narrowed, his hands claws. His attire was a soiled red, blending his perfectly into the desert-like landscape. He ran barefoot, his soles tough and leathery.
His companion was a lithe girl, with neck-length blue hair and wide violet eyes. Her attire may have once been an elegant sweater and skirt of tan and black, but now were stained with the dark red dust of the land. Her feet barely had time to catch up with her savior, his stride that of a wolf, if not faster.
"Damnit, what useless baggage," he growled to himself, leaping over a mangled car while simultaneously pulling Shinobu into his embrace. Her blush was ignored by her companion, who continued unabated even while a hail of beams impacted the obstacle behind them.
"Inu Yasha, they're gaining!"
"I know, fuck it!" Inu Yasha scaled a ramp-like boulder quick as a flea, and used it's height to catapult himself several meters ahead of his pursuers. They unleashed a torrent of weapons fire nevertheless, forcing the dog man to accelerate.
Inu Yasha's increase in speed didn't even shorten his breath; His endurance was greater than a wolf's, and he could run across long distances for many days if need be. However, the fact these creatures also seemed tireless did not bode well for Inu Yasha, as he had no idea how long these creatures could run.
A burst of automatic weapons fire caused Inu Yasha to dive into a depression in the sand, holding his body firmly over Shinobu's to offer protection. After a number of roars and screams assaulted his ears, and a triumphant explosion that made his ears curl against his head, silence fell. Inu Yasha sniffed the air.
"Blood. Not a human's, though," he murmured into young Shinobu's ear, whose face was red given the position she was in. Inu Yasha paid this no heed, poking his head above the ground. He blinked.
"All dead?" Indeed, the bodies of his pursuers littered the ground behind him. Their strange cannon that looked old but proved as potent as any modern weapon (if not more) sat in a flaming heap, the scorched corpses of the enemy twisted into agonized shapes. Inu Yasha cautiously sniffed the air once more. Among the stench of death and the burned flesh, he picked up the scent of a human, male. He did not recognize the scent, but so long as it was human Inu Yasha felt little trepidation.
"Who goes there? Answer me, damnit!" To his right, a figure emerged slowly from the ruins of some sort of temple. Inu Yasha studied this man closely, noting the black T-shirt, blue jeans, and shoes. He also noted the severely heavy assortment of weapons that Inu Yasha recognized as being of gunpowder-based devices. He finally noted how the man struggled with his load, his messy brown hair betraying his gritted teeth and narrowed brown eyes.
"Who are you? And what are you doing here?" The man demanded. His tone was that of some sort of weakling scholar, Inu Yasha wagered, though there was anger and determination behind the voice.
"I am Inu Yasha. I was running from those things you slew," Inu Yasha gestured vaguely behind him," with a brat I picked up on the way. How's that?" The man snorted.
"Skip the bravado, doggy-boy. How do I know you're not with those things?"
"You're quite dense, weakling," Inu Yasha spat," why would I be associated with such weaklings as these? Besides, I look nothing like them!"
"The ones I've seen so far, at least," the man clicked one of his weapons, and pointed it at Inu Yasha. Shinobu chose this moment to raise her head timidly out of the improvised fox hole, peeking over at Inu Yasha's stand off partner. She gasped for joy, and rushed out of the confused reach of Inu Yasha.
"Sempai! You're alive!" Shinobu screamed happily, rushing into the arms of the aghast man. He hugged her tightly, tears beginning to fall from his eyes.
""Shinobu? I-You're- I don't know what to say!" Inu Yasha, still confused and suspicious, treaded slowly toward the pair.
"I would have, but the bombing didn't get past ground level! I'm glad I got stuck in that elevator shaft in the basement; it saved my life! And later, Inu Yasha got me out again!" Inu Yasha walked closer still, checking the air with both olfactory and auditory senses. The man looked up with a grateful smile, and held out his hand.
"I'm sorry for being suspicious, though you can understand why, right?" Inu Yasha shrugged, taking the man's hand with a loose grip.
"I'm Keitaro Urashima. Come in, won't you?" Inu Yasha snorted.
"In? Into what, pray tell?" Keitaro rolled his eyes before setting off back the way he emerged, Shinobu clutching his arm with the veracity of a leech. Inu Yasha, confused and more than slightly miffed, followed along all the while sniffing the wafting breeze.
"Here we are! Home!" Announced Keitaro in exhausted joy, Shinobu and Inu Yasha both gazing upon the source of Urashima's exclamation. Inu Yasha snorted.
"Looks like a mud hill," he sneered.
"It's the best shelter available on the planet right now," Keitaro retorted, leading Shinobu by her hand toward a small hole in the formation. Inu Yasha blew out a breath, then followed reluctantly into the shelter.
Within the darkness of the tunnel, Inu Yasha's sense strained to detect the nature of the path ahead, but the queerest thing was he couldn't pick up any variations. No changes in pressure, no alterations in the temperature-Nothing. He expected to run into a wall after quite some time.
"Something wrong, Inu Yasha-sempai?" Shinobu's plaintive plea in the darkness set the dog man's face into a smirk.
"Nothing," then a troubled look emerged," Urashima, what devilry is this?"
"What do you mean?"
"I can't detect anything ahead of me. My nose tells me nothing, my ears are blank. What gives?" Abruptly Inu Yasha felt a strange, intense tingle pass over his body. He froze, his super-sensitive ears immediately bombarded by strange scents and sounds. The area was much lighter now, illumination provided by a number of lights above his head. He could see Urashima's slight smirk.
"Dampening field," he stated by way of explanation," blocks out any sensor focuses. It keeps us hidden from scans above us." Inu Yasha sighed.
"So, these creatures come from the sky? What type of demons are these?" Keitaro shrugged while Inu Yasha took a moment to appreciate his surroundings. It was a bare, gray cavern, with a number of containers, tables, assorted devices and strange machinations Inu Yasha could not remember seeing before scattered about the floor. He narrowed his eyes as Keitaro pulled a square, tile-like device from the baggage and opened it like a book. A number of tablets were imbedded in one of the leaves of the metal-book, on the other a smooth, black plate. This flickered, then displayed a number of images that made Inu Yasha's eyes grow to twice their size.
"What-What the hell? Are you some sort of warlock?" Keitaro gave Inu Yasha a funny look.
"It's a computer."
"Computer? Wait, I've seen one these before... Yes, it displays knowledge from around the world," Inu Yasha nodded, while Keitaro rightly sweat dropped.
"Where the hell did you grow up, under a rock?" Inu Yasha snarled, baring his razor-sharp canines. Keitaro blinked, then slowly nodded.
"Ah. I see. Okay then, never mind." Inu Yasha sighed, staring up at the ceiling.
"I suppose I might as well give a back story on myself. I'm from 500 years in the past. I emerged in this time via a portal in a well, to visit a... Friend here." Inu Yasha effectively hid his concern for Kagome before continuing.
"I emerged in a wasteland. Everywhere I could see had been completely wiped out, worse than a forest fire. I encountered a few creatures skulking about with magic weapons, who fired on me. I killed them all, then heard this brat," Inu Yasha indicated the seated Shinobu," crying out from underground. I got her out, then more of those things appeared. They outnumbered and out powered me by a fair margin, and so I ran. That's it, though I doubt you believe me," sighed the dog-demon, slumping his shoulders.
"Hey, we've seen enough weird stuff to make us believe damn near anything," consoled Keitaro, typing up a few commands on the laptop. "Aha! Here we are." Shinobu and Inu Yasha squatted behind Keitaro as the laptop screen displayed an image of the Earth from space. Inu Yasha whistled.
"You have eyes above Earth?" Keitaro smiled a bit.
"Yeah. Suu, one of my friends, hooked this computer up to her people's satellite system. It recorded this," Keitaro pressed a button, showing a large, violet rift in space," popping up in a Lagrange point." Shinobu nodded, understanding this from her high school astronomy class. Inu Yasha, who had no such knowledge, simply snorted.
"They sent through a few big vessels," Keitaro hit another button to show large, grey spheres emerging from the rift," that fired on our surface from orbit. The weapons seemed to be lasers, or some other kind of beam weapon. Suu said it looked like they only targeted things upon the immediate surface." Shinobu tapped Keitaro's shoulder urgently.
"Where is Suu, sempai?" Keitaro smiled reassuringly.
"She went out to set up more early-warning sensors. She'll be fine, you know her," Shinobu sighed in relief, while Inu Yasha wrinkled his nose.
"So, these... Beings. Where are they from?" Keitaro typed up a few more commands, and the screen zoomed in on the violet rift that had unleashed the doom of Earth upon the Sol System.
"Suu told me everything. She said she doesn't know where specifically these things are coming from, but her people's hyperspace scanners detected hundreds, maybe thousands of these rift events popping up all around the galaxy."
"Yes, Shinobu-chan. An invasion," the trio turned to focuses their gaze upon Suu Kaolla, walking solemnly into the chamber. She was in her adult form, a long pink skirt and green tank top clothing her lithe body. A mandolin-like instrument was strapped over her shoulder. Shinobu cried happily, flinging herself into Suu's almost maternal embrace. Keitaro and Suu shared a meaningful gaze while Inu Yasha studied the laptop more closely. Suu took the computer in her arms, typed a few elaborate data streams into it's system, and the computer cast the image of a tangled mass of light and color across it's opaque screen. She held it as a kindergarten teacher would hold a picture book to her class.
"This is a computer representation of hyperspace, which my people scanned a few days before the invaders arrived," Suu traced a few electric blue lines on the screen with her thin finger," Note these streams of energy."
Suu hit another button, the hyperspace snapshot blurring before emerging in pristine condition. All three of Suu's companions asked,"Where are the blue lines?"
For indeed, those lines Suu pointed out before had vanished. Suu sighed, her brow creasing.
"I do not know. All I know is, the instant the lines disappeared the invaders entered our space. My people have been studying hyperspace since the 1980's, and we focused upon these hyper strings in particular. They seem to transcend both normal and hyperspace, and what's more, the power each one embodies is enough to create a new Universe." All but Inu Yasha had a dawning of comprehension upon their face, though Inu Yasha was starting to get an idea of what all this meant.
"You mean, these things; They act like, like book marks?" Suu nodded.
"Bookmarks between Universes. My people have scanned as far as our sensor grids can reach: These blue hyper strings have vanished across almost our entire galaxy. Anywhere they do not appear, these creatures are invading," Suu paused for effect, before continuing," We've been able to find where most, if not all, of these strings converged. The epicenter, so to speak." Inu Yasha immediately stood up, his hand gripping the hilt of his sword savagely.
"In that case, we must travel to this knot, and find whatever's blocking the strings!" Suu nodded, smiling.
"Not bad for one 500 years behind the times," she said gently, shutting her laptop closed.
Keep an eye out for the second chapter, and as always, please reveiw. Flames, cookie recipes, anything; Just leave some sort of note in the box, and I will be content.