Youtou Shinnoken

A Rurouni Kenshin/Yuyu Hakusho Crossover Fan Fiction by Chester Castañeda

Original Concept by Chad Yang

Fight conclusion and reunion. Editing this was a bitch.

Disclaimer: Yuyu Hakusho is the rightful property of Yoshihiro Togashi, Shueisha, Fuji TV, and St. Pierrot. Rurouni Kenshin is the rightful property of Nobuhiro Watsuki and Sony. This disclaimer also covers all the other copyrighted material that are far too many to mention here. Don't sue me please, I'm very poor.

Chapter 25: Freckles (Part 7)

Back in the middle of the demolished Yoyogi Park...

Sanosuke Sagara was about to leave the park when, out of nowhere, a pasty hand grabbed hold of him and pulled him inside what looked like a portal a la the one Koenma used to send him and Yahiko to Ningenkai. "What the...?"

He found himself sprawling on the floor, his twelve-foot spear-sword clanging on the pavement, when he heard a thud and an "Oof!" just beside him. "Hey, Yahiko-chan! What are you doing here?"

Yahiko punched Sanosuke's eye after hearing that hated name. "It's good to see you too, birdbrain. Do you have any idea where we are or how we got here?"

"Would I ask you what you're doing here if I did? I do remember getting grabbed by a pale, white hand by the scruff of my jacket before I was thrown here. I think a portal may have been involved, but I'm not sure." Sanosuke blinked at Yahiko's wardrobe. "Hey, your rainbow shirt turned back into your old garments too, huh? The same thing happened to my outfit."

"SILENCE, YOU BUGS!" came the shout of one pissed-off youkai with bushy red hair, blue markings on his face, and a snow-white pallor that made him look like a reanimated corpse, which was followed by whispers of, "The damn human idiots that I have to deal with; I hope the Chojin's sycophantic Onmyouji figures out that he should never send humans to do a demon's job."

"Who the hell are you?" Yahiko and Sanosuke chorused, the latter picking up his broadsword while itching to swing it at the demon that just appeared.

"I am Rando of the Chojin's Shin Ju," Rando half-lied, because his half-win, half-failed mission to murder Yusuke Urameshi and friends had made his position in the Overfiend's elite squad murky at best. Hopefully, by gate-crashing this latest mission and killing Koenma's newest recruits, he'd curry favor in his master's court. "I'm here to end what the Onmyouji's hired humans couldn't; namely, you two."

"Shinju? Never heard of it," Sano replied before running straight towards the demon with the intention of slicing him in half from head to crotch. Meanwhile, the less straightforward Yahiko moved to the side in order to circle around the youkai and catch him off-guard if he tried to escape.

Rando harrumphed as he summoned Kuwabara's Dimension Sword... the same one he used to deliver the two in front of the Shibuya museum... and escaped into a portal before Sano's blade even landed on where he was standing.

"Silly humans. Don't you know that you're all inferior to demons by default? Hell, Urameshi Yusuke had beaten someone who's arguably the strongest human in the world by becoming a half-demon, and he still didn't end up as the strongest demon in the Demon World by doing so." Rando sneered as he reappeared many yards away from Sano and sliced the Zanbatou in half from a distance.

"SHIT, I JUST GOT THIS ZANBATOU BACK AFTER A HUNDRED YEARS!" Sanosuke cursed before calling out to Yahiko, "Stay clear from this guy's blade swings! It can slice you from a distance! He's like the Bohemian Jesus I fought earlier; he can project and increase the range of his strikes at will!"

"I read you loud and clear, Rooster Head!" Yahiko called back as he unsheathed the sakabatou, whirled around, and slammed it on the ground, blasting a crater onto the concrete and hurling himself into the air while avoiding the space-cutting Jigen Tou slashes by reading the trajectory of Rando's arm movements.

"Imitation Technique: RYU TSUI SEN!"

"GRAVITON THUNDER!" The anti-air pillar of light electrocuted the kid in midair and mid-strike, which gave Rando enough time to fully charge up the laser beam technique he stole from none other than Yusuke himself. "You-Gan."

The pointblank youki blast that somehow had double the explosive force of Fuwan's Jaki Ho even though it was only using demon energy instead of negative energy flung Yahiko all the way back to the same hole he made earlier by using his Dou Gami and Ten Gami skills together. Even though his landing wasn't so brutal as to produce a trench deep enough to hide yourself in, the fact that his body received the full brunt of the Demon Gun blast made all the difference.

As expected, Sanosuke ran towards Rando with what was left of his halved zanbatou... a feat that might have worked against a similarly simpleminded Getsuno, but just couldn't cut the mustard against the true jack-of-all-trades of the Chojin's army.

As Sano charged, he basically had to endure being scourged and tortured by the abnormally long range of the Jigen Tou, then once he reached Rando, he had no payoff because the youkai merely teleported away using his stolen sword's portal-making abilities or utilized his copied Shinsoku technique to acrobatically escape.

"Don't you two understand? An S-Level demon is more powerful than an S-Level human; an anything-level demon is more powerful than a similarly classed human. Particularly strong humans are called by others 'as strong as a youkai'. When you admit your weaknesses, you people say that 'you're only human.' Even humans know how weak humans are."

"I don't know who the fuck you are, but if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that the poor, Jesus-looking freak is suffering from self-confidence issues and demon envy because of chalk-skinned, witch-voiced youkai assholes like you," the lacerated Sanosuke spat blood from his split lips as he threw what remained of his dilapidated polearm away; he didn't even get the chance to show off his new techniques, he noted with disdain.

"I don't admire Kazemaru for his cheating ways, but he really brought the fight to me. I won't let some Kabuki-looking moron insult me, him, or the rest of the human race without a fight. Bring it on, Pasty," the lightheaded Yahiko chimed in after recovering from the nigh-paralyzing jolt he experienced from Rando's energy blast.

Rando stood his ground and commenced cutting Yahiko and Sanosuke up with his glowing sword, this time using Divine Speed to make his job easier. In response, both Yahiko and Sanosuke turned the pavement into dust in order to see where the slashes were coming from even from that great a distance.

"Clever, but I can blast or cut you to pieces all day. You're the two humans that Kazemaru and Kibano couldn't kill? Don't make me laugh. Just two out of my one hundred and one Dai Mugen Ryu techniques are enough to finish you shitheads off."

Yahiko gestured something at Sanosuke and the latter nodded. "So says the fucker who picked a fight with us when we're already exhausted and have used up our energy," the former Sekihoutai member said as, to Rando's bewilderment, he gripped Yahiko by the collar and heaved him straight at the demon, with the boy doing a Dou Gami for good measure in order to accelerate his flight.

"YOU-GAN!" This time around, the hurtling Yahiko was able to duck the finger-aimed projectile just in time to set himself upright and fall into Jodan-no-Kamae or the upper-level stance to deliver his hammering blow. Rando raised his barrier-slicing blade to block the Ryu-Tsui-Sen-like technique with the intention of following through with either a You-Gan to the mouth or a chop to the head, but that proved to be a grave mistake on his part.

"TSUI GAMI!" Yahiko proclaimed, his blunted blade shattering the sword-shaped energy construct with extreme prejudice while also pounding upon the veined chest of the flabbergasted Rando.

"Hey, Urchin Head! Get out of the way!" Sanosuke beckoned from Yahiko's back, and the younger of the two obliged, turning in time to see the eldest Higashidani son wielding the other half of the broken zanbatou and slamming it right beside the speechless youkai. "ZANBATOU ATE! AHHH!"

Because Sanosuke utilized the twelve-foot... well, six-foot... cavalry sword to execute this technique instead of a ceremonial knife like Anji, the explosion of rock and debris produced enough force to fling the hapless, anemic-looking demon from the Ota Memorial Museum of Art to the middle of the Meiji Street, crashing into asphalt, cars, drivers, and pedestrians during his violent and agonizing journey through Sagara Express.

Speaking of which, Yahiko later interjected, "Hey, I can do that too! Revisal Technique: DOU GAMI! Imitation Technique: DOU RYU SEN!" just as Rando attempted a Blood Fire Wave or Blood Wind at his pursuers, which made him go into another odyssey of sorts that turned the Human World into a blur of metal, concrete, glass, plastic, wood, cloth, and plaster. Only a wrecking ball would've had more up-close-and-personal experiences with buildings and streets than the pasty youkai did at the moment.

After the duo of Yahiko and Sanosuke were through playing football with Rando's fetal-positioned body... with the trio somehow reaching Kyocera Building after dragging the youkai through hell and back... they asked him together, "Who's the Chojin? Why does he want us dead?"

Rando made the Meiji Street's concrete roll like sea waves from underneath Yahiko's feet while he hypertrophied his right hand and transformed it into the Kaiwan. One human beating him into a pulp was enough for him; he wasn't about to let Koenma Daio's human guinea pigs get the best of him, a Shin Ju elite! "REPPU KEN!"

Alas, despite all of the techniques he had at his disposal... some he could only do once a day, some he had to spend all his allotted power to execute, and some that could outright kill him... they crumbled in the perfect combination of inexhaustible offense and methodical defense of the Sanosuke and Yahiko team. The wrestling moves of the Byakko's Claw, the Chinese Amazons' Bakusai Tenketsu, and the Shaolin Monks' Hakkei pressure point technique served only to anger the insanely durable Sanosuke.

Meanwhile, every move that Rando chucked at Yahiko worked exactly one time. The improvisational skills of the seemingly "young" man was nothing short of astounding. The Tokyo Samurai employed the Dou Gami and Dou Ryu Sen to counter all projectiles, used the Inga Gami to counter the Kachuu Tenshin Amaguriken, broke the demon's knees using the Tsuka no Gedan: Hiza Hijiki to nullify the Shinsoku, and hurled the instinct-driven Banzen Gami to cover up his openings or counter anything else the tattooed youkai could throw at him. The boy was one step ahead of the demon nearly all of the time.

"Ningen fuckers," Rando spat as he shot a scorching-hot Shakunetsu Hadou Ken towards the over-aggressive Sanosuke. Yahiko tried to retaliate, but he was too surprised by the demon grabbing the burning Sano by the ankle and hitting the Tokyo Samurai Descendant with him. Even after the boy recovered, the follow-up Kuzu Kaze then Nenshou Shoryuken broke through his guard and sent him lurching.

"VAJRA!" As Rando invoked the Sanskrit word for indestructibility and spiritual power, two crimson-black spikes emerged from his elbows; a technique he learned from a demon prince. "There's nothing I hate more than humans. Come at me. I'll make you learn your place." The youkai was able to shallowly stab both humans with his elbow spears before the pinpoint destructive power of "TSUI GAMI!" sheared off one spine and the annihilating force of the "FUTAE NO KIWAMI" shattered the other barb.

A "DOU GAMI!", "DOU RYU SEN!", "FUTAE NO KIWAMI!", and "SANJO NO KIWAMI!" later, and the trio had successfully demolished through private property and established a new shortcut between the main Meiji Street and the Onden Shopping Street. Rando was back at the point when he fought Urameshi for a third time; half-dead, yet half-alive; broken, but not defeated. He couldn't figure out at the time what he wanted to happen after exhausting both his power and the Chojin's in that one fight against an S-Class warrior.

Yahiko climbed up on Sanosuke's shoulders with the intention of jumping high while the older man charged low.

'I don't want to lose again,' was Rando's only thought as the blunt force trauma of a bludgeoning sword and a fist that hit twice after only one punch tested his Byakko Claw's Iron Body Technique to its utmost limits. He could use the illusionary Jagan he had to escape, but he didn't want to run away from this beating either.

Did he want to die a warrior's death? To burn in a blaze of glory? No, he wanted to test his limits. Shatter the glass ceiling. Become more than he ever thought he could be. Something awakened inside him after the Urameshi fight, and he was burning inside to find out what he was truly capable of. He had given his all in fighting the S-Class Yusuke and survived; there was no way in heaven or hell he would let two mere humans from a bygone era win against him.

"This is your last chance to fess up, Randy or whoever you are! We know the Chojin is bad news, but we also want to know what he's up to. Unless you want to get crippled like Bohemian Jesus did, I suggest you talk. I held back a bit on that martial artist hobo, but since you're a demon, I'll probably not risk it and go balls to the walls with you."

The shaky Rando grunted, "Blow it out your ass," before sputtering blood all over himself.

Sanosuke braced his sore knuckles for a painful impact. "Suit yourself. FUTAE NO KIWAMI!"

Yahiko leaped and felt his muscles tense in anticipation. "TSUI GAMI!"

All of a sudden, both attacks were blocked by sand particles that gathered from out of nowhere to protect Rando's injured and tender body.

"Suna no Tate," the demon whispered with a smirking sneer, his body brimming with youki as it recovered enough to get a second wind. Unnoticed by the two, the spirit detectors' numbers now indicated Rando to literally be a class above the pair; A-Level, to be exact.

"What the...? A barrier? AGAIN? Fuck this shit!" Sanosuke attempted to use Sanjo no Kiwami air pockets to penetrate the auto-block sand kekkai that Rando suddenly deployed while Yahiko assisted in between punches using the faster-than-thought speed of the Banzen Gami. However, compact grains of sand then gathered across the demon's skin. Coupled with his Iron Body Technique that enabled him to survive the combined assault of two Class-B opponents, the youkai had now found a way to be perfectly protected from all sorts of physical attacks.

"Suna no Yoroi."

Back in Shibuya, inside the empty building where the Nalanda Shop used to be...

As soon as Kaoru threw Burashi aside like discarded trash and sheathed the Demon Sword, her body reverted back to that of Botan's.

"That was amazing, Botan! Since when did you learn how to use a katana? Why is it blunt? Why did you look like a completely different person just now?" the gingerly hopping Shizuru praised as even she did some jabs and straights at the half-conscious punching bag that Musashi had become.

"Botan" blinked at Shizuru, shook the outstretched hand of the woman in a torn-up pantsuit, and bowed. "Hello, my name is Kamiya Kaoru. I... I'm a spirit that has possessed Botan-chan's body for the time being to... help her out with her mission."

Shizuru nodded slowly before bowing back, her eyes never leaving the blue-haired girl that, she supposed, was acting quite unlike herself. Sure, Botan was still bubbly, and she also had a violent streak in her, but her present fighter-like attitude and sense of justice was something wholly brand-new for her. "Are you sure you're not Botan's split personality or something?"

"No, I'm not. Besides, there's no such thing as split... oh, wait, Botan remembers Yusuke telling her about the seven personalities of Sensui, so there is such a condition. Huh," Kaoru clarified and then corrected herself... well, Botan did, or something like that.

"Uh, yeah. What you did right now? That sounds very split-personality-ish," Shizuru pointed out, but gave up after realizing that her standards for weirdness should be higher than this.

If she could take the idea of talking money, a stalker with a wooden bokuto that can crush people or turn into a red-tinged steel sword when broken, her brother swinging around an energy sword that sounded like a Star Wars lightsaber, and Yusuke producing a rechargeable "Ray-Gun" of sorts composed of reiki (hence its name, "Rei-Gan") that made synthesizer whistles, then a grim reaper getting possessed by a ghost of a kendo master wasn't that big of a stretch.

Sadly for the exhausted, slightly traumatized (she threw a slab of rock over Musashi's twitching head for good measure just to make sure he didn't resurrect for a second time) Shizuru, she was about to suspend her disbelief a tad further.

Kaoru sheathed the sakabatou-transformed Demon Sword, slipped it inside Botan's cloth belt, and requested, "Kenshin, you can come out now. I want to talk to you."

Kenshin obeyed and materialized, his corporeal form a lot more tangible now than before in reaction to Kaoru's intense "sparring session" with Burashi. Though not without trepidation, he cheered for his comrade's victory, stating, "Kaoru-dono, that was amazing! You really showed the true worth of the Kamiya Kasshin Ryu and kendo with that dominant performance...!"

The redhead didn't even see the slap coming, a red welt marking up his cheek. He was about to say his signature "Oro?" catchphrase when he saw Kaoru compelling Botan's eyes to cry tears of betrayal and indignation.

"Uh... Botan? I mean, 'Kaoru'?" Shizuru ventured, feeling as though she had stumbled in the middle of a lover's quarrel.

"WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME EARLIER THAT SHISHIO KILLED YOU? Why did you have to hide that from me? Were you taking me for a fool? When exactly were you planning to tell me? I don't usually pry into your past or personal business, but this at least had something to do with me! For all I know, I could've committed suicide right after you died! I... I don't think that I'd done so, but I'm dead now and I don't even remember what happened when I died, so who knows what could've really occurred?"

Because Kenshin didn't know what to say at the moment, he prostrated himself over the cross-armed, Kaoru-possessed Botan, bowing with his head stooped all the way down to the ground. He looked up and saw "Botan-Kaoru" (or "Kaoru-Botan") arguing silently over him and his supposed sins. "You're right. I should've told you the truth about my demise sooner. I'm sorry."

At seeing the sight of a groveling Kenshin, Kaoru couldn't help but let her anger fade slightly as she queried, "Hiko-san assured me that the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki shouldn't have failed. When you keep away from the dragon's fangs as it ascends to the sky, a violent gale steals your body's movement as it stabs you with its claws. Were you not able to execute the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu Ougi properly? Please, tell me what happened."

At that point, Botan took control of her body and, to poor Shizuru's growing confusion, shouted at, well, herself, so to speak, "C'mon, Kaoru! He already said he's sorry earlier, and you can't fault a guy for dying, of all things! I don't care if he promised you the moon and the stars; you can't hold him accountable for not returning to you, even if he promised to do so! Stop acting so spoiled!"

"She's right, y'know," Kenshin confessed to Botan, which stunned her.

"Wha...? Kenshin! Don't let this harpy bully you around! You shouldn't have to act like a martyr over this mess!"

As Kenshin stood up, brushed the dust off of his hakama, and faced Botan, he addressed Kaoru and disclosed, "Kaoru-dono, I was able to use the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki properly against Shishio Makoto. His body had reached its limits and he was already about to burst."

Kaoru again took control of Botan's body, snatching it under the flabbergasted shinigami's nose. "And then what happened?"

"Komagata Yumi stopped me from finishing Shishio off. However, like a snake, Shishio used Yumi as a decoy to stab me at my side. I lost a lot of blood back then, and my body was also at its limits after battling Shishio's right-hand man, Seta Soujiro, and having a rematch against Shinomori Aoshi."

"Were you killed by Shishio at that point?" Kaoru dared question, for the first time becoming aware of how much Kenshin had to go through in order to stop Shishio's faction and still come back alive to her and the rest of their friends. It was certainly a tall order, she'd come to realize.

Kenshin paused for breath, as though he were bracing himself, then responded, "Two thoughts entered my mind. One was the fact that Shishio had lost all his strength, so by the time he reemerges, the bearers of the next age should be able to deal with him. The other was your smiling face, asking me to come back home to Tokyo with you."

"And then...?"

"Fire; fire born out of the violence of the Bakumatsu. The fires of hell enveloped me, Shishio, and his loved one as his triumphant laughter echoed in my bleeding ears above the roars of the flames and my searing flesh."

Horrified beyond words, all the trio... well, the four people, five if Musashi were included... could hear at that point was the wail of the siren and buzz of the gathered crowd outside the condemned building.

As both Botan and Kaoru tried to digest the implications of Kenshin's words, the former hitokiri and rurouni himself pondered whether or not his defeat was because Shishio proved to be too powerful for him, his body had been weakened too considerably to put up a fight, or if he just gave up and allowed Shishio to get the last laugh. If Shishio really were the Chojin, then that just meant that all his sacrifice did was delay the inevitable.

It was at that moment when Botan took full control of her body, brusquely shoved the Youtou Shinnoken back to Kenshin, summoned her oar, and checked the spirit detector that the redhead refused to wear for the whereabouts of the rest of the Onmyouji's released jaki. "Kenshin, I'm afraid you'll have to mull over your past for another day! There are still three more blips of energy we have to follow! Hurry!"

As Botan and Kenshin rushed to the abandoned building's fire exit in order to fly to another part of Harajuku, Shizuru fell down on her posterior, looked at the stirring Burashi, knocked him out cold again with another rock, and then sighed. "What the hell just happened?"

Back in the streets of Onden's shopping district...

Both Sanosuke and Yahiko redoubled their efforts in penetrating through Rando's triple-layer defense while the demon shot back his head and let out a warbling guffaw at the futility of his opponents' efforts. After a minute or so of the two humans desperately trying to claw through the Shield of Sand's barrier, the Armor of Sand's shell, and the Iron Body Technique's fortitude, Rando decided to go on a punching match between the two. At that moment, it didn't matter how perfect Yahiko's counters were because of the youkai's high defense.

Bits and pieces of Rando's armor had cracked and shattered amidst the assault, but to his opponents' chagrin, he kept on reforming it thanks to all the rubble and dust found on the ground. Then he had another idea from all the offense that Yahiko and Sanosuke were deploying; the ultimate counter, to be exact.

Rando backpedaled, feigning injury at the one solitary part of his body that Yahiko had been hitting again and again while Sanosuke kept aiming his punches all over the place, the demon's footwork forming a nautilus shell spiral as his nemeses followed him like sheep to the slaughter...

"HIRYU SHOTEN HA!" The tornado he produced wasn't as big or as faultless as the ones done by the Joketsuzoku Clan of the Nyuuchezu Village in China, but it served his purposes well enough to execute a "GENOCIDE CUTTER!" at the hapless humans while they tumbled over each other inside the artificially made cyclone synthesized by hot, aggressive ki and cold, methodical ki. 'But that's still not enough to finish you two off, is it?'

Sure enough, Sanosuke's willful aggravation had reached its boiling point, to which his magical wardrobe reacted accordingly by giving him the power to summon a second zanbatou. As for Yahiko, the nearest trees surrounding him had their branches shed leaves en masse towards him, the perfectly healthy pieces of green flora snapping and popping as though they were burned by the invisible fire of the teenaged swordsman's kenki.

'Fine. I can still have my fun for a couple of more minutes, then!' Aloud, Rando mocked his enemies by stating, "It's not my fault that you don't realize that you've already lost. If you insist on embarrassing yourselves further, then by all means, go ahead," while his aching yet keyed-up body enabled him to begin the preparations needed to execute an advanced martial arts skill developed by a certain Minato Namikaze using the windstorm generated by the Flying Dragon Descending Wave and a certain one-eyed arms dealer's trademark vacuum-slicing technique.

First, Rando utilized the Ibuki... his signature energy-transforming talent... in order to convert some of the demon energy flowing through his body into tantric energy as well as opening up his chakra circulatory system and his three-hundred-plus chakra points.

He afterwards unleashed his Shinsoku to rotate the air gathered all around him into a single hazy sphere at different supersonic directions. He then released his denser youki into the mix to add strength to the whirling egg of supernatural forces. Finally, he wielded the miniature tempest in one hand, balancing both youki and chakra into an Class-A yin-yang of devastating might.

For minutes, the kenki-effused Yahiko, the zanbatou-wielding Sanosuke, and the chakra-and-youki-powered Rando just stood there, the crumbling facade of the Onden Shopping Street filled with stores, restaurants, and fleeing bystanders properly setting the mood for the face-off.

Then, within the afternoon clouds above the trio emerged the floating pair of Kenshin and Botan, who had supreme difficulty finding the persons of mass destruction because of how much ground they'd covered in such a short time.

Once Sano and Yahiko looked up and met Kenshin's worried, violet eyes from a distance, their jaws dropped as though they'd been dislocated, their eyeballs seemingly wanting to pop out of their sockets as, for the time being, they completely forgot that they were in the middle of a battle to the death against one of the Chojin's toughest demonic Shin Ju minions.

"K-K-Kenshin. Damn, it's Kenshin. Are... they flying on top of an oar?"

"KENSHIN! Hey, who's the blue-haired chick with the pink kimono? Does Jo-chan know about you two?"

"SANO! YAHIKO! LOOK OUT!" Kenshin warned as he prepared to leap off Botan's boat paddle to help his long-lost, time-displaced comrades out. However, his presence proved a big enough distraction for Rando to blow his opponents away via his latest ultimate technique; a power that, when he was still a C-Level nobody, could drain him of all his youki to the point of him going comatose for weeks on end, forcing him to hide inside a self-made cocoon for recuperation purposes.

"RASENGAN!" The squeal of the perfect storm inside Rando's palm had a maximum sustained wind of about a hundred and thirty miles per hour... a category-three hurricane right at the cusp of becoming a category four... that blocked Sanosuke's attempt at a Zanbatou Ate and Yahiko's stab at a Dou-Gami-powered Dou Ryu Sen, its air pressure causing severe and costly damage to the nearby manmade structures.

However, before Rando could completely drive the Spiraling Wind Sphere into Yahiko and Sanosuke's bodies and turn them into unidentifiable chunks of shredded flesh (or before Kenshin unsheathed his youtou and challenged the relentless demon, whichever came first), a twister slash with pressure powerful enough to destroy overhang construction and roofs by just being near them collided with the Rasengan.

It then formed a strong-enough collection of sound energy that coalesced into a vapor zone of rapidly condensed air and resulted in an ear-splitting sonic boom. The apocalyptic waves of wanton destruction blew back Rando, Kenshin, Botan, Sanosuke, and Yahiko into an unceremonious flight that reached all the way to the nearby Onden Shrine's Tori Gate.

After the dust settled, the wind from all the surrounding area traveled into a single source: A seven-foot humanoid lifeform that wielded a nodachi, his body consumed by the Demon World's dark flames, the tendrils of his miasmic jaki pulsating in accordance to the direction of the strong airstream that enveloped him.

"You've done well, Rando. You've gone above and beyond your line of duty by turning defeat into victory and transforming the jaki given to Fuwan, Getsuno, and Burashi into this A-Level mesh of unbridled might. You've done the Shin Ju proud. Now vanish; I want to use this power against the Battousai himself."

"YOU!" Rando seethed, his shaking hand gripping his weakened ball of cyclone winds tightly before he stampeded towards the energy being and used the air surrounding his opponent to bring his weaponized vacuum blast back to its former strength. "Interloper! I won't let you ruin my fun now! Eat this, motherfucker! RASENGAN!"

"You shouldn't have used the wind against me. It's like pouring gasoline unto an open flame; utter foolishness. Disappear, you A-Level trash," the entity set aflame by a maelstrom of negative energy cut through the sphere of contradictory forces with his longsword and let loose a backlash of vacuum slashes that chopped Rando's body up into ten different pieces despite the combined fortifications of the Shield of Sand, Armor of Sand, and the Iron Body Technique.

Thusly, the demon was forced to protect himself from utter annihilation using the Blood Wind created out of his own ichor and telekinetically slashed a portal using the Jigen Tou held by his dismembered right forearm. "Is this... S-Level? D-Damn you...!" The rest of the white-skinned youkai's words were drowned out by the roar that resulted from the abrupt clash between the Blood Wind and the backfired Rasengan.

Botan checked her spirit energy tracker... the new model that didn't blow up easily... to see if the monster's energy level was as Rando claimed; it was. 'Dammit. An S-Level in the middle of a metropolis! If Enma Daio were still in power, he would've blown a gasket.'

Sanosuke got up from his unexpected trip by grabbing onto his reacquired zanbatou and using it as his anchor weight to get him to a steady vertical base. "Great, here's another turd that shot out of the Chojin's asshole... Yahiko? What's the matter? You're sweating like a pig."

The Tokyo Samurai's pallor was almost comparable to the recently slaughtered Rando at the moment. "Me? What about you? You're shaking like a leaf, Rooster Head," he defensively rejoined as he did his best to overcome the dreadful feeling he felt in the pit of his stomach.

Sanosuke took a look at his body and, as Yahiko pointed out, found his teeth, legs, hips, and hands trembling even though he himself was raring to go and fight this new monster of a demon or human, as though his recently acquired body knew something that he himself didn't. "C-Could that guy actually be...?"

"...The Chojin? I don't know, but from the looks of things, your guess is as good as mine. He looks like someone who can take us all on without any problem whatsoever, though," Kenshin confessed to Sano with a firm grip on the taller man's tremor-filled shoulder. 'More importantly, what exactly are we looking at? A humanoid flame?'

Sanosuke let go of his "partner's" polearm handle and grasped Kenshin's hand in a firm handshake. "I never thought I'd see you again, man. You look charred and frazzled, but otherwise good."

"It's been ages. I was wondering why you haven't gotten to Heaven yet!" chimed in Yahiko, and Kenshin's wide smile became even broader once he recognized the weapon the teenaged spirit was holding as the sakabatou.

In the background, Botan felt rather out of place yet, at the same time, also experienced heartwarming feelings thanks to Kaoru's own speechless reaction to the nostalgic gathering.

"I see you've gotten yourself a new sword," both Kenshin and Yahiko chorused at each other before laughing at their hive-minded exclamation. Unluckily, they had to stop their shared laughter short once the blazing newcomer addressed them directly.

"I was about to say something trite about tearful and touching reunions, but I wouldn't want to be rude or anything," the muscular man... if he could be described as that... of the darkness flame bowed low at the people who made the Onmyouji's latest experiment with jaki successful. "Rando keeps saying that humans are inferior to demons. Well, I'm here to prove him wrong. Outside of the rogue spirit detective known as Sensui Shinobi, there's another Class-S human in this world: ME."

The "Kenshingumi" had a million questions to ask each other, but they didn't have the time. The Chojin's research on increasing his reserves of jaki by means of conflict and war had given birth to this being that might be the Overfiend himself.

The four kept their eyes trained on the calm and complacent creature as they conversed. "We'll have to say our hellos later. This is Botan, by the way. She's a shinigami from Reikai. And these are Sagara Sanosuke and Myojin Yahiko. They're my friends back in the nineteenth century."

"A pleasure to meet you, miss."

"Oh. My great-great... well, descendant is friends with a shinigami."

"Hey. Um, do you guys have... a plan? This guy is no joke. He's Class-S and he shouldn't even be in the Human World because of the sheer amount of power he's exuding."

As Botan feared, her questions were met with a long, pregnant pause.

"W-We'll see what we can do."

"Oh, were you four waiting for me to attack? Okay, fine. I'll indulge you." Even as the alleged Chojin was speaking the word "attack", he'd already cut the distance between himself and his intended target, his lengthy blade aimed for the kill.

Sanosuke immediately used the broadness of his cavalry sword to his advantage by blocking the nodachi with the thicker weapon as though it were a shield. However, because the entity had the power of a hurricane backing him up, his blade was engulfed with piercing air pressure that enabled him to penetrate through the thicker steel and run Sano right through.

In remembrance of the techniques Yukyuzan Anji taught him, Sanosuke hit the side of his abdomen with the Kiwami Hazushi, which allowed him to cancel out the stab's forward momentum and keep it shallow. Nevertheless, the hulking Overfiend exploited the wound, drove Sano to the ground, and dragged him upwards in a spectacular spray of blood.

Then, just as the Chojin turned around, an "INGA GAMI!" that slammed right through his flaming, incorporeal body and split it in half greeted him. With the intention of snuffing his jaki flames out for good, Yahiko followed through with his Banzen Gami, only to realize that the thin line of air pressure created by the Retribution God allowed the dark overlord to twist the boy's wrists and disarm him using the air.

Kenshin jumped into action as soon as he saw the Chojin attempt the body-chopping move he brutalized Rando with on Yahiko, but he arrived a second too late despite his supersonic speed; the move hit the boy in full force.

On one hand, strangely enough, the crisscrossing strikes didn't wholly dismember Yahiko thanks to his ultimate shirahadori technique of Hadachi, which was a barehanded sword-breaking skill. On the other hand, the force of the blows made him soar past the Onden Shrine's Tori Gate before busting the Komainu or Chinese guardian lion statue up with his back. He ended up face down in several pools of his own blood. Meanwhile, the piece of the nodachi he broke clattered alongside the shattered remains of the sculpture.

With a dismissive huff, the Chojin forged his nodachi whole again through the fires of negative energy produced by the three or four earlier battles that had just taken place in Harajuku. In any event, Kenshin's A-Class self went head-to-head with the humongous Overfiend's wind-enhanced longsword strikes that reduced the entirety of the surrounding shrine into an indescribable mishmash of powdered ruins, shards, bits of metal, and confetti thanks to the repeated sonic booms.

'Are you truly the Chojin? Or are you really Shishio Makoto reborn? If that's the case, can I defeat you now even though I failed to do so a century ago in Kyoto? Or will I give up now as I did then, comforted by the thought that the next generation... Yusuke's generation... will take my yoke and defeat you for good?'

Every last technique Kenshin had in his arsenal... from the Ryu Tsui Sen to the Kuzu Ryu Sen... he hammered the fiery behemoth with. However, the indefatigable entity ate all that offense up and became even stronger as the fight drew on, proving his earlier claims that the entire exercise was an experiment to see what could be employed to enhance the power of negative energy. From there, the Chojin reached Chou Shinsoku speeds and overwhelmed Kenshin with an abrupt and violent onslaught that scourged him like a common criminal during Roman times.

"IS THIS THE GREAT POWER OF THE DEMON SWORD THAT I'M SUPPOSED TO FEAR? I want to fight the Youkiri Battousai, not some mediocre hitokiri whose only claim to fame was to kill a couple of hundred mortals during the Bakumatsu!" the large muscleman derided as he rushed towards the Battousai with the recklessness of a mad bull.



Both the barely coherent Yahiko and Sanosuke rasped in shock, stunned beyond belief by the ease that the purported Chojin defeated their idol: the alleged champion of truth and justice as well as the protector of the weak.

Subsequently, just as the Chojin was about to deliver his death blow, Botan flew over Kenshin's fainted, blood-drenched, and skin-ripped body... or maybe Kaoru did, but the ferry-girl neither knew nor cared... and intervened in every which way she could, even though she recently discovered what had happened to the last woman who interfered in a match between Kenshin Himura and a flaming, would-be despot.

In another bizarre twist that left all those involved speechless and traumatized, the Chojin's slashes didn't cut Botan up to pieces; it instead tore apart her kimono, leaving her as bare as a newborn babe.

The energy being afterwards pushed her face-down on the ground, her posterior facing him as he grabbed the naked woman's shoulder and burned her skin with his flaming hand. Botan shrieked in pain, humiliation, and fear.

"I'll take you here now, you sweet little thing. Suffer for me. Empower me as others have done so previously. Make me more powerful with your tears and hopelessness as I reach ecstasy beyond words. Make your loved ones suffer as well, so that my abilities will reach unprecedented heights."

Following Shizuru's actions during her recent traumatizing experience as an example (even though certain circumstances would probably deem it as a bad example), Botan and Kaoru's minds synchronized once more as they shoved an endless supply of boat paddles into the gaping black maw that served as the Chojin's mouth. "You're the man who made Musashi turn into a serial killer and sexual deviant! Well, here's some masochistic action for you, you pervert!"

Just as the sentient being of Makai flame and jaki burned the oars to ashes and renewed his attempts to satisfy his deviant and gory fetishes, the combined forces of Sanosuke's Futae no Kiwami, Yahiko's Dou Gami, and Kenshin's Dou Ryu Sen to the ground he was standing on sent him corkscrewing into the sky before landing right smack dab in the middle of the shrine in a spectacular crash.

Nevertheless, all three could barely stand after that particular instance of physical exertion, with Kenshin being the most exhausted one of them all thanks to the amount of abuse his spirit had suffered from three weeks ago to today.

The being of plasma and fire got up from the crater that his sudden landing created, the very concrete melting at his feet into red-hot lava because of his burning inferno of a body.

As a mortified Botan scrabbled at the ground for something to cover herself up, the ever-resilient Sanosuke ran towards her despite his injuries, took off his jacket, and handed it to her before he looked away while she put it on. "That was real impressive, lady. You put up more of a fight against that Chojin fucker than any of us did so far."

Botan smiled shyly at the tall man as she wore his jacket like an extra-short bathrobe of sorts. "Thank you, Sano."

"Hey, how'd you know my nickname?" Sanosuke's eyes furrowed as he took a good look at the pink-eyed girl's face. "Have... Have we met before, miss?"

"Sano, leave your new girlfriend alone for a minute! We've got trouble!" the wobbly Yahiko cautioned in the middle of trying to find his missing sakabatou (he'd used the metal sheath to execute his latest Dou Gami). Sure enough, the fiery behemoth was already barreling towards the drained and immobilized Kenshin while Yahiko tried desperately to run despite the unfavorable condition of his own body.

"Let me repeat the words that I've etched into my mind from the day I died to the day I returned to the world of the living from the wretched bowels of hell. 'Neither a real sword nor a classic school makes up the art of killing. That which determines the killing sword is the pain and suffering that one feels for those he had killed.'"

Kenshin's lethargic body shakily stood up in reaction to the Chojin's familiar words. It was at that point that the jaki-powered winds started to change. Literally; they embraced and enveloped the ex-vagabond's diminutive body like an invisible robe that replaced the kimono torn apart by his opponent's onslaught. However, the smaller swordsman remained frail and weak because he was the most recent victim of the Overfiend's overwhelming might.

"That's it. Stand up. Didn't you say to me way back when that I shouldn't be satisfied with mere scratches and injuries? Fine, then. I will finish you off, if you want. But first, use your ultimate technique against me so that I will have the satisfaction of completely defeating the supposed Strongest Hitokiri of the Bakumatsu!" the Chojin stated as he went on a rampage yet again, with every interweaved whirl of his Japanese longsword rendering the landscape into a mess of cubes made of varying materials.

To the Overfiend's irritation, Sanosuke Sagara picked up the remnants of his revived zanbatou, used his inextinguishable fighting spirit to make his weapon become whole again, and slashed it right at the energy being.

The resulting clash of swords predictably broke the cavalry sword like glass, but to the Chojin's surprise, Sano managed to reconstitute his zanbatou then and there for another attack. They exchanged relentless sword strikes, neither giving an inch as the former Zanza's weapon continued to regenerate while the burning humanoid continued to shatter it into a million pieces.

"Get out of my way, small fry."

"Kenshin ain't ready yet, so you'll just have to wait, hothead."

"Sooner or later, you'll run out of touki, which will make your magical regenerating sword crumble for good. Run away before that happens, you worthless little prick; you don't stand a chance against me."

"I've already let the last dictator wannabe murder Kenshin right before my very eyes! I'm not about to let the same thing happen again! SO FUCK OFF!"

'S-Sano...' Yahiko murmured before his own kenki-filled willpower teleported his missing sakabatou right into his hand. 'Kenshin has saved me from numerous jams in the past. Now is my chance to pay him back.'

The rate by which Sanosuke was restoring his zanbatou had commenced slowing down, which served as the Overfiend's cue to attack the man's widening vulnerabilities, mistakes, and weak points. Nonetheless, he couldn't do so; every time he attempted to attack, an invisible force blew him back with the strength of a car crash. 'What's going on? What's hitting me?'

The Chojin espied Yahiko holding the Upper-Level Posture of kendo, his body flickering in and out of existence, which made the dark overlord realize that the boy charged every fraction of a second after the zanbatou and nodachi clashed, then snapped back to his ready stance in a flash like a rubber band. "Enough of this nonsense."

The man made of pure miasma allowed a zanbatou strike to hit him, the twelve-foot metal blade exploding into searing shrapnel as he aimed a huge wave that looked large enough to cut a skyscraper in half at the disappearing Yahiko instead. However, he underestimated the power of Sano's blow, which was why he got blasted back a good thirty yards away.

The trapped Yahiko... who, as a nine-year-old young boy, faced down yakuza, an older swordsman, a giant, a flying batman, a whale beast with a grenade launcher for an arm, and a Chinese martial artist... lobbed repeated Tsui Gami strikes at the whirling vacuum wave in the hopes of neutralizing its advance although he didn't know if he had the remaining strength to break that S-Class technique apart, fully aware that he was a good two levels behind the Overfiend's current level. Then again, he didn't really give a damn.

Fortunately for Yahiko, he had enough power to reduce the blast of air's size to about half before it reached him. He sighed, bracing himself for another trip back to the Spirit World when Sanosuke shoved him aside and did a Zankuu Zanbatou Ate at the void, which made it burst into numerous smaller airstreams that cut the street fighter apart almost as badly as Kenshin was sliced, his blood spilling all over the horrified Yahiko's face.

Sanosuke staggered, but kept himself up through the force of his own stubbornness. "Hey, thanks for the save against that Chojin bastard, Yahiko. We make a pretty good team."

"Stop trying to act cool, you dumbass! Besides... that's my line. Thanks for saving my life, but you didn't have to take that bullet for me!" Yahiko berated with a conflicting combination of gratitude and concern.

"I know you're a pretty tough guy yourself, but Kenshin suffered about as much as I did just now, and I can't let Battousai beat me in a toughness contest. It's all I got against that overpowered son of a bitch," Sanosuke rasped as his blood loss made his body nearly fall to the ground.

Yahiko grabbed hold of his woozy friend, wincing in agony because of the trauma his spine suffered just in time to see the kanji for "bad" appear on the taller man's back like a bleeding wound of sorts. ''Aku'. Why does he have a glowing tattoo of the word 'evil' on his back?'

The pair afterwards jolted awake as they both felt the spiritual presence of someone awfully familiar permeate into their consciousnesses; in reaction to their feelings of wistfulness and resolve, Kaoru was able to transform Botan's corporeal, half-naked body to that of hers without the Youtou Shinnoken's help.

"What the...? Jo-chan!"

"What on earth is Kaoru doing here? Where'd she come from?"

"All right, I've had enough of these shenanigans. If you're not able to fight me now, Guardian of the Demon Sword, then you don't deserve that Reikai artifact; I'll destroy you now and take that sword for myself!" the superhuman plasma lifeform threatened, his longsword raised for another shuddering assault, but he then blanched for a second because of how weak his summoned winds had become.

The current of air surrounded the half-awake but unconquerable Kenshin the same way that the mountain breezes of Mount Hiei did a hundred or so years back. There were no leaves to slice up using his kenki at this point, so the Battousai settled for popping up the diced debris into even smaller pieces, his sword energy producing dense clouds of dust with immense amounts of electrical static and ionized gases.

Even further back, the smiling yet determined visage of Kaoru Kamiya cheered Kenshin on from behind him, the borrowed piece of clothing that her similarly borrowed body wore transforming into her normal kendo outfit from eleven and a half decades ago. She picked her words carefully in remembrance of what she recently learned regarding Kenshin's untimely demise.

"Kenshin, whatever happens, I believe in you. Please..." 'Win?' 'Do your best?' 'Come back home with me in this new Tokyo?' 'Don't die?'

"Live. Live your life to the fullest and with no regrets." Why did she say that? Stupid, stupid, stupid... Kenshin was already a ghost! She was a ghost too! How was he supposed to act all inspired by her half-baked, badly chosen words of encouragement?

Unbeknownst to her, those were the exact words Kenshin needed, his eyes immediately sharpening into purple orbs of awareness and comprehension upon hearing them. The Chojin and the Battousai glared at each other for about a millisecond before they charged forward with speeds beyond that of ordinary men.

"Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu Ougi: AMAKAKERU RYU NO HIRAMEKI!"

In almost the same manner as Shishio did, the Chojin took advantage of the nodachi's extra length and his own supersonic quickness to fully neutralize Kenshin's Dragon Flight of Heaven's power and speed after seeing the ground buckle on the left-footed in-step that accelerated his battoujutsu strike to unbelievable levels.

"Holy shit, the Chojin blocked it!" Yahiko cursed, breathing in and out as he gathered the strength he needed to join Kenshin in the fight; at this point, he could still take on a bit more damage, he reckoned.

"It's not yet over. This ultimate battoujutsu has something special in store for Mister S-Level!" Sanosuke reassured, although he didn't like the way the Chojin shrugged off the succession technique in almost the same manner as Shishio did once upon a time. 'Fuck it. Is the Chojin really Shishio? These ghosts from the past are popping up all over the place!'

The Chojin almost barked out his laughter at the empty space before him as his jaki-created body flared up in almost the same way as Shishio's did when he immolated himself, Kenshin, and Yumi into charred silhouettes on the ground. "I've already discovered the secrets behind this move, including the follow-up slash! As both Rando and your teenaged ally discovered, it's a bad idea to use the wind against me, Battousai!"

The imperceptible void that arrested Shishio's movements long enough for Kenshin to combine the power of centrifugal movement and the frictionless space of split air to hurl his adversary about forty feet to the sky was overcome by the Chojin's tornado, producing countless twisters that swallowed the vortex and blew away the ionized cloud of static that contained Kenshin's kenki.

"This is the strength of a Class-S creature! The might of superior beings worshipped as gods by powerless humans who didn't know any better! The incomprehensible power that Judaism and Christianity believed to have come from angels! Just like before, you will die along with your foolish beliefs! But thanks to you, I've discovered the true power of the killing sword! My victims are my strength. Their suffering will lead me to greatness."

The supposedly expected second slash never came, which confused and puzzled the Chojin. 'No. I've tangled the coiling dragon's body. His claws won't reach me anymore! This is my chance to finish him off!'

Again, just like with the Shishio fight, an image of Hiko Seijuro the Thirteenth appeared before the cross-scarred manslayer. 'If you sacrifice yourself now, a girl who came all the way from death to see you will become immensely unhappy.' That wasn't an exact quote, but the redhead recognized their intent.

"You haven't learned anything from the last time we faced, have you?" To the Chojin's disbelief, Kenshin had speed-sheathed his sword during the turn, canceling out the second strike by doing so. "I cannot die here. There's a person who's been waiting for me for a hundred or so years to return. Nothing is stronger than the will to live! Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu: HIRYU SEN!"

Aiming his sword right at the eye of the storm that the Chojin created using the blocked Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki's vacuum abyss, Battousai unsheathed his weapon using his thumb and let it fly towards his opponent's head hilt-first, its momentum aided by the storm winds that the whirling vacuum controlled.

All that gathered jaki then ruptured open and collapsed unto itself in an instant, the twisting vortices converging upon that new black hole that sucked the Chojin's energy-based body until every last wisp of the destructive force was gone.

After the fight between the forces of the Chojin and the forces of the Spirit World... namely, Kenshin Himura, Botan, Kaoru Kamiya (somewhat), Yahiko Myojin, and Sanosuke Sagara... the four (or five) people gathered warily around the crater created by the Chojin's implosive end as miasma billowed out of the void that sucked the creature of darkness and his Demon World flames inside-out like a miniaturized version of a collapsing star.

Kenshin picked up the Youtou Shinnoken that he ejected out of his sheath using his rarely deployed Hiryu Sen or Flying Dragon Flash. To be sure, both Sanosuke and Yahiko had only witnessed him utilize the technique once during the six months or so that they knew him... in their past lives from a hundred years ago, to be exact.

"Is it over? Is the Chojin dead?" the robe-wearing Kaoru asked before her strength gave out and her form reverted to that of Botan's, her legs buckling from exhaustion after fighting against one of the Chojin's minions and the Chojin himself.

In half an eye blink, Kenshin went behind Botan and caught her in the middle of her fall.

Unfortunately... because of their mutual half-undressed state thanks to the Chojin's clothes-ripping power and the fact that the spirit guardian had no other place to grab the ferry-girl but on the chest... embarrassment, indignation, and pain ensued.

While the red-faced shinigami wearing Sanosuke's jacket was busy choking Kenshin (who was already tapping out) with her boat paddle, Yahiko managed to interject, "Just who exactly are you, miss? I wasn't seeing things when you turned into Kaoru just now... was I, Kenshin? Sano?"

"Nope. I saw it too. That was definitely Jo-chan," confirmed Sanosuke. "Are you a reincarnation of Jo-chan?"

The reenergized Botan eventually let Kenshin go in order to let him speak. Afterwards, she realized that the jacket emblazoned with the word "Evil" on its back that she got from Sanosuke was made from Reikai's Nalanda Shop in Yumekai.

Thusly, she used her reiatsu to transform it into the pink kimono she usually wore before changing her mind and turning it into Sarayashiki's standard-issue girl's school uniform that she sported during the time when she, Kurama, Hiei, and Kuwabara went off to rescue a kidnapped Yusuke many moons ago.

Yes, the clothes from the Nalanda Shop had the useful ability to transform themselves depending on the aura and personality of their wearer.

"Well, that's a long story, Yahiko. I'll tell you more about it when the time comes," Kenshin said as he gave the boy a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "Right now, we need to get out of here, catch up on old times, and heal our broken bodies."

"Jeez, we're not talking to ten-year-old Yahiko-chan about the birds and the bees here, Kenshin!" Sanosuke complained while Yahiko kicked him on the rear for the "Yahiko-chan" crack.

Unfazed by Yahiko's butt-kicking, Sanosuke continued. "Besides, Yahiko died as an old man, so despite appearances, he's actually a mature soul! Anyway, tell us who that girl is right now! Is she Missy's reincarnation or something? We got to know!"

To be Continued...

Next: The Chojin's identity?

Man, the amount of shit I put these characters through is staggering. Good thing it builds character.

Akin ang huling halakhak!