Writer's Note:  Omigosh…I actually wrote something for the Ice and Fire Contest!!!  This is it!!!  Since I got the heads up to go ahead and post on ff.net, I decided to get an early start.  I borrowed a lot of elements to put into this story, so I hope it's got a nicely diverse plot.  I feel bad because this is rated R and the contest calls for 17 appropriate age stuff…well, 16 year olds can go see a rated R movie…so there!  ^_^ Enjoy.

Disclaimer:  None of the Rurouni Kenshin characters are my creation…the Third Reich/ Nazi stuff…well, that's obviously not mine.  The Indian's idea of Untouchables…well, thank god that isn't mine!  You have been forewarned.  (Oh yeah.  And the poem O Captain, My Captain…well, that isn't mine either.  But I don't think I have to include that because poem titles don't have copyrights!)

O Captain, My Captain

By Leila Winters

            "Let me through, please!" Megumi Takani cried as the huddled masses pushed their way past her on the dirty streets, her shoulders bumping into several people.  Easily seen as an outsider among rags, the woman's lustrous hair was hidden by the hood of her dark blue cloak.  Her pale skin was soft and unmarred, while blood red lips pressed together in consternation.

            At last able to break free from the crowd, her form rushed towards a small child, curled tightly in his own rags on the sidewalk.  At her touch, the boy weakly lifted his head and smiled.


            "No," replied the woman.  "My name is Megumi Takani.  I'm here to help you," her hands already roaming over the boy's delicate frame, checking for broken bones or signs of illness.  Pulling a piece of bread from within her sleeve, she handed it to her patient and continued her examination.

            The boy sat up and eagerly began to eat.  Between mouthfuls, he said, "Thank you…my name is Soujiro Seta…are you un-born, too?"

            And of course, the meaning is clear.  The un-born, lowest of the low in the social class pedestal.  Death was a less painful answer to the indignities and utter dehumanization these people were forced to suffer.  Life as an Untouchable offered no security and no guarantee of long life.

            Megumi faltered at the boy's question.  "…No.  I am native-born."

            The sound of gunfire startled both into looking up to see a mob of the un-born pushing and shoving in order to flee the ones who held the guns:  the Hitokiris.

            Men in neatly pressed black uniforms, blue armbands and semi-automatics scattered about, shouting orders to the people.  Over the din, the steady tread of a single set of boots could be heard coming ever so closer.

            Megumi felt a hand land heavily on her shoulder.  "Get up."

            She froze.  Eyes wide, the lady doctor thought she'd never been so scared in her entire life.  Suddenly, the same hand pulled roughly at her, flinging her onto the street with a thud.  "I SAID GET THE FUCK UP!!!"

            Wordlessly, Megumi stood on shaky legs and motioned for the boy to join her.

            "Get in line with everyone else."

            In confusion, the two looked around, earning an ungentle shove in the right direction.

            "KEEP MOVING!!"

            Hands on Soujiro Seta's frail shoulders, Megumi led the boy amidst the crowd of people, all walking in the same direction.  The Hitokiris stood not far away, their weapons at ready.

            "Everything will be fine, Sou-kun.  You don't have to be afraid."

            Oh my God…what's going on?  Why is this happening?  Megumi's thoughts raced, as the walking seemed to go on forever.  Those around her seemed to be sapped of their strength; it was a labor simply to keep their heads up.  The Hitokiris forced those who would not or could not walk any further to continue.  A man ahead collapsed in the street and begged for reprieve…and as Megumi and her charge walked past the man, a Hitokiri placed a bullet in his head.

            Megumi continued as instructed, but did not tire.  Instead of fatigue, the lady doctor just felt numb—in mind and in body.  The boy who traveled with her among strangers was amazingly resilient.  He did not complain once and merely smiled to the passersby.

            After a time, the crowd came to a halt and it was the waiting that had become unbearable.  Well away from the city, country and a pair of railroad tracks were the only sights in the wide vista.  Restless, the people paced or rested or huddled together.  Megumi pulled another piece of bread from her sleeves and split it with her patient, sitting together in solemn silence.

            In the distance, the steady chug of the train kept the people company.  There was a commotion among the Hitokiris and they ordered everyone up.  As the train came to a halt before them, several of the cars opened up and people started rushing in.

            Meg found herself unable to move.  Soujiro tugged at her hand.

            "C'mon, lady.  We'd better follow everyone else."

            An officer noticed the woman's lack of cooperation and stomped after them.  Pulling roughly at her arm and practically tossing her towards a car, he roared, "GET ON THE TRAIN, UN-BORN BITCH!"

            Eyes wide, Meg looked around her surroundings just in time to see Untouchables lining the walls before the cargo doors shut, enveloping everyone in complete darkness.

            "Where are we going, Meg-san?"

            "I…I don't know."

            After hours of sitting in cramped positions, the train came to a stop.  Having much time to mull it over, the lady doctor was in a panic.

            Oh my God…they finally did it…the Hitokiris have taken over…terror seized Megumi's heart as the predicament she found herself fully sank in.  Her breath caught and the doors slid open suddenly, allowing the sunlight to blaze through.

            We have a new shipment coming in today…thought Aoshi Shinomori, as he walked past the stalled train currently unloading its burden.  His black uniform was impeccably neat, as was his black hair, bangs falling nearly eye length.  The piercing icy-blue gaze accentuated even more by the royal blue armband on his right sleeve.

            Thinking about the new procedures to be implemented, Aoshi's thoughts were interrupted by the sight of a young woman in a dark blue cloak struggling against two officers.  With a jerk, her hood fell from her face, revealing her wide, frightened eyes.  Still, he could see the fire in them.  It was clear she was of an entirely different class.

            Aoshi found his legs taking him in that direction.

            "You don't understand!  I don't belong here!!!"

            Shoving her into a more submissive position, one of the officers shouted, "YOU WILL DO AS YOU'RE TOLD!!"  The woman made a sound as that was reinforced with another rough shove, bringing her head closer to the ground.

            Aoshi Shinomori towered above them and both officers looked up in surprise.

            "Oh…Captain Shinomori!"

            "We're sorry.  This woman will not cooperate!"

            "This is standard procedure, sir."

            Aoshi's face remained impassive and the officers shrunk away from the cold gaze.  They quickly muttered apologies and disappeared from sight.  The woman remained on the ground, obviously shaken.  Thinking to see her savior, Megumi Takani lifted her gaze from the polished black boots to his face.  But she did not see a savior there.  The face was distant and unmerciful.  She would find no sympathy here.

            Sitting back on his haunches before the woman, Aoshi placed a hand under her chin and forced her to look directly into his eyes, their faces inches apart.  "You will comply with our rules and get in line with everyone else.  I have warned you now, but failure to fulfill our demands and you will face the consequences."

            Without another word, the man stood up and stalked away, leaving a shell-shocked Megumi behind.

            Soujiro shook the young doctor's shoulder.  "Meg-san, you'd better get up.  Look, everyone else is in line!  Get up!"

            Megumi coughed as she came out of her trance-like state.  Rubbing her face with shaky hands, she could not rid herself of the image of the Hitokiri captain with the piercing eyes.

            What have I gotten myself into?  I just wanted to help people…I didn't want this…

            Using sheer force of will, Megumi got to her feet and stood in line with the other un-born.  Getting closer to the front, Meg noticed that all the females went to one side, while all the males went to the other.  With wide eyes, the lady doctor crouched to the boy's level, taking him by the shoulders.

            "You're going to have to leave me soon, Sou-kun.  Very soon, those men are going to take both of us away."

            The boy merely smiled.  "That's all right, Meg-san.  We'll be okay.  We're survivors."

            Shaking him a bit, the woman bit out, "You don't understand!  This is very dangerous!  Promise me you'll remember.  My name is Megumi Takani.  I am a doctor who hails from a line of doctor's, native-born in Aizu.  I have black hair and brown eyes and specialize in botanical medicine.  Promise me!"

            The boy gave her a puzzled look.  "I…I don't understand…"

            "When you get out of here, you must look for me.  I will take care of you.  Tell them you are my son and find me!  I will not be able to find you.  Promise me you'll remember!"  As these words were said, two soldiers came and ripped the two apart.

            Soujiro smiled good-naturedly at the woman, waving goodbye.  "I'll certainly remember, ma'am!  Don't you worry about me!"

            What is wrong with him?  That boy has no fear…he won't last a day in this place.

            Ushered along the dirt paths, Megumi joined the women to await her fate.

            Walking along the rows of grimy Untouchables, Aoshi Shinomori surveyed the lines of men.  His cold eyes roamed over their downcast faces and inspected their builds.  Stopping to regard a particularly frail man, his face remained impassive.

            Under the gaze of the Hitokiri captain, the man cracked and grasped the lapel of Aoshi's uniform, leaving a smudge of dirt on the material.  "Please, sir!  My family needs me back home!  Have mercy!"

            Without a single muscle in his face twitching, Aoshi took a step back and removed the pistol from the holster at his hip.  The man's cries grew shriller, but the barrel at his forehead never wavered and the recoil from the fired shot only momentarily jerked the captain's arm.  In disgust, Aoshi Shinomori turned away from the fallen body and walked off.

            Captain Hajime Saitou, cigarette in hand, smirked lazily at the officer.  "Having a bad day, Shinomori?"

            The officer stopped and shifted his frosty gaze to the amber-eyed captain.  There was a long moment as the two men regarded each other before Aoshi turned away without a word and kept walking.

End Notes:  Yeah…sorry if there's any confusion already.  The next chapter should explain a bit more, but also adds to the mystery.  :P  It's not a very revealing intro, I'll admit.

Reasons for the high rating:  This really is not a kiddy fic.  While language may not really be my objective (as in another story of mine I could name…), there will be some of it and the situations really are for more mature audiences.  (Honestly, do you remember reading about the concentration camps when you were still cracking the bathroom door to use the toilet?)  The above is about as violent as it'll get, however, there will be sections in the future which may get a bit…controversial.