Love can Change You

Hello my friends. You've read my comic fic, now I'm trying out a serious one. Read and enjoy.

Note: The Dragonslayers are very much alive in this.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Escaflowne or any of its characters.

Chapter 1:

Palas. Capital of Asturia. One of the most beautiful cities on Gaea. Its graceful towers stared boldly at the sky as if daring some threat to show its face, and be defeated. For centuries, its people had been protected by kind, selfless kings and the fierce Knights Caeli.

Now it didn't look nearly so beautiful. The towers had been destroyed. The king was a cowardly fool who cared nothing for his people. The knights, with one exception, were arrogant jerks, enjoying their superiority to the common folk. The enemy had come. A young leader of Zaibach, the general of the elite guymelef unit known as the Dragonslayers, had attacked and burned a large part of the city to cinders. Palas the Beautiful, had become a cesspool for the criminal element. With the army gone to fight Zaibach, murderers and rapists roamed the street at will, practicing their trade on any they passed.

As the dark gray clouds rolled across the sky, totally obscuring the sun, a young woman walked down the street. Passing by the homeless and beggars, her shoes splashed in the puddles and her hair hung in tatters, blowing across her eyes, red-rimmed from crying. She stared ahead dully, not caring where she ended up. For not an hour ago her heart had been ripped from her chest with callous ease. An empty space was all that remained.

'Van.' The girl named Hitomi couldn't get the name out of her head. How could he have done this to her? She had finally confessed her love for the young king. After months of waiting, of holding that feeling in she had told Van that she loved him.

And she learned that he did not love her back.

'Why me?' she thought to herself. 'Why did I have to come to Gaea? Life was going great, everything was swell. Then that damn beam of light took me here. What would life be like if I hadn't come to Gaea?' Hitomi laughed bitterly. 'It would be a hell of a lot better then it is now!'

"What's so funny, girly?"

Hitomi whirled at the sound of the voice, rough with too much alcohol, and was grabbed and dragged into an alley by two burly figures that picked her up and slammed her into the wall. One leered into her face. His hideous breath almost made her swoon.

"Well." He rasped. "What do we have here?"

The other figure stirred. "It's called a woman, Trek. Geez, you'd think someone with as many rapes as you under his belt would've learned to recognize one by now."

"Ha, ha, ha. Very funny." Trek laughed sarcastically.

Hitomi felt the feeling of fear grow as what was said registered in her mind. 'Oh my god! These two are rapists!' The fear made her struggle, which made Trek laugh. "Oh, look! She doesn't want to stay!"

"You gonna do her? I wouldn't."

"Yeah? Why not? Too scared?"

"Yeah, and I'd be to if I were you. I've seen her in the streets before. She's with Schezar."

"Right! And I'm the Strategos of Zaibach!"

"I'm dead serious! Mess her up, and Schezar'll cut you up with rusty razors."

Trek hesitated. Then laughed. "Then I'll just have to get rid of her after I'm done!" Hitomi struggled even more, causing him to hit her across the face. "Hold still bitch!"

"Trek, this is-"

"Don't say it! Don't goddamn say it! I don't care if it's a bad idea! I'm gonna have her whether you like it or not!"

"Fine. Do what you want. I'll tell your brother what happened when they find your body in a ditch." The man walked away, leaving Hitomi alone with the now grinning Trek. "Now where were we?"

As the man held her against the wall with one hand, he fumbled with his belt with the other hand, and Hitomi struggled wildly. Growling, Trek hit her, again, and again, each blow bringing stars to Hitomi's eyes, and stunning her body. As the rapist finally managed to get his pants down, a part of Hitomi she had never heard before screamed at her. "What are you doing?!" It yelled. "Don't you CARE if he rapes you?" "Why should it matter? Van doesn't love me, Allan loves Millerna, and my family is god knows how many miles away." "What about you?" The voice screamed. "Dammit, for the first time in your life, think about yourself!" Hitomi found no way to argue against that, and as Trek was lowering himself onto her she kicked him, very hard, in the balls.

The man gaped like a fish out of water and made a high pitched mewling sound deep in his throat but no scream. Hitomi watched him for an instant. Then she smiled unpleasantly and brought her fist smashing into his face. There was a peculiar crunch as his nose shattered, and Trek did scream this time.

Hitomi watched him for another moment massaging her knuckles, that peculiar smile on her face. Then she turned and walked away. 'That felt good.' She thought. 'That felt VERY good!'

She didn't finish that thought, because Trek was apparently a very quick healer. The next thing she knew, Hitomi had her back pressed to his chest, a knife to her throat, and the whispered words, "This is gonna be a real pleasure." in her ear. The knife dug lightly into the skin.

"I'd let her go, if I were you." The hollow voice echoed through the alley.

Trek whirled. Knife still poised at Hitomi's throat, he shouted, "Who's out there?"

Pause. Then, "Just a man offering some friendly advice." The voice still had no source.

Trek laughed, exhaling putrid gases. "I don't need no advise, pal. But here's some for you! Clear out or the girl gets it!"

"I thought you were going to rape her."

"I don't need no suggestions on how to run my life!"

"So you don't like suggestions or advice, hmmm? Very well. Then here is a threat. Let the girl go, or I will be forced to kill you."

Trek laughed again. "Is that so? Well I got news for you! We'll be staying together!"

"Not likely." Now the voice had a source. Right behind them. Trek whirled, but was struck and lost his grip on Hitomi. She fell to the ground and stuck her head on the alley wall. Dazed, she saw Trek being lifted clear off the ground by an unknown force. The rapist thrashed wildly, slashing at the arm with his knife, but no blood was drawn. His struggles grew weaker and weaker until. *Snap* His neck broke. The voice then threw the corpse out of the alley into the road. And just before Hitomi blacked out completely, the clouds above parted momentarily. For that brief moment, Hitomi saw the moonlight shine on something metallic.

Then she saw blackness.

A/N: How was THAT? Be sure to read and review.