AUTHOR'S NOTE: One day I will quit making promises I can't keep. This took longer than I thought to get together.

Little bit more explained in this chapter, so it should at least partially reveal who's who. Also check out the "Emperor's Japanese" just below here for a few more clues.

THE EMPEROR'S JAPANESE DEPARTMENT:

Kitsune: Probably a "no-duh" question with Inu-Yasha fans, but a kitsune is a trickster fox-spirit. Shippo is a kitsune.

Bakeneko: Literally "monster cat." Kilala/Kirara is a bakeneko, though you could also call her a youkai (demon) or possibly a hengeyokai (shapeshifting demon), especially in this story.

Baka: fool. Not something used in polite or normal conversation by Japanese, except of course by American otaku or anime schoolgirls upset with certain hanyou. (In this chapter, when Kagome screams "baka," it helps if you've ever watched Inu-Yasha subtitled in the original Japanese. I swear, Kagome's voice actress says that word like no other.)

Taijiya: Demon-hunter. What Sango is.

Ikazuchi: Thunder.

REVIEWER'S CORNER:

Hawker-748: For some reason, I've grown to like Kagura. She's a tragic character, though I don't think she's all golden deep down–in the second Inu-Yasha movie, she certainly didn't take long to latch onto some other evil being. Still, I like her and can't help but want to give her a Darth Vader-like ending.

As far as the Eva Matrix goes, I really need to get back into it. I just haven't felt like writing much comedy and/or Eva lately. Too much Sengoku Jidai, I guess.

Pen2: Nope.

Jschu25/Snowy Silver: This chapter ought to get all straightened out. Let me know if you got the characters' heritage right!

CHAPTER THREE: BLOOD ON THE TRACKS

Explosives are not what it takes

You know terrorists always make these mistakes

What we gotta do is build momentum

If you need the right tools invent them

Ride the wave of time, come feel the rhythm

The march to the future has come, get with them

The brain is the generator of almighty power

Either do it now or your master plan goes sour.

Scotty D, "Drop the Bomb"

The Higashi-Kanto Expressway

North of Tokyo, Japan

6 August 2008

Kagome looked over at Sai. "What's the plan?"

"We stop the other SUV." Sai pushed the accelerator to the floor and sliced across the lane.

"How?"

"Thought we might just ask them to pull over. Get your badge out." Their SUV caught up to the other and Sai rolled down the window, looking across at the rough-looking men dressed in black suits. "Excuse me!" Sai shouted over the hum of traffic and hiss of rain on concrete. "Interpol!" Kagome waved her badge with what she hoped was a winning smile. "Pull over! We'll need a driver's license and proof of insurance!"

Sai's answer came in the explosion of a shotgun blast as the passenger opened fire. Sai stomped the brakes a split-second before he saw the flames shoot from the barrel of the Ithaca pump-action. The slug skipped over the hood. Sai swore indignantly, taking his foot from the brake back to the gas as the tan SUV pulled ahead.

"Get down!" Kagome shouted, and nearly shoved his head under the steering wheel. There was another blast, and the windshield exploded into glass fragments. "Great idea!" Kagome screamed. "'Ask them to pull over'–baka!"

Sai glanced above the instrument panel, now covered in glittering shards of safety glass. He manuevered their SUV behind the other, temporarily away from the shotgun. "Well, what did you have in mind? Ask them if you could bear their child or something?" He ignored her middle finger. "Yeah, yeah...Rin, are you okay?" He spared the girl in the backseat a glance. Rin gave him a look that would melt steel and gave him an indignant thumbs-up.

"Stupid, stupid kitsune..." Kagome mumbled as she pulled her sword from beneath the seat and used it to clear away the remains of the windshield. "And we didn't bring any guns! 'This is Japan,' Otomeinu says. 'We have strict gun laws here,' Otomeinu says! If we live through this, I swear I am going to beat that damn hanyou repeatedly about the head and shoulders with a two-by-four–"

"Ah, shut up!" Sai snapped. Seeing the rear window of the tan SUV being lowered, he waited a second and then turned the wheel hard left and stomped the accelerator. "Quit complaining and toss something out of your bag of tricks at them!"

Kagome broke off her complaining to reach into one of the pockets of her black and red jumpsuit, withdrawing a baseball-sized object. "Hold it steady, dummy," she growled at Sai, then tossed the ball at the still open passenger window of the other SUV. It missed, bouncing off the side, and exploded a second later in a cloud of purple smoke. The slipstream pulled it into both speeding cars, though Naraku's men caught the worst of it. Sai blinked, his eyes smarting. "Okay," he nodded, ignoring Kagome's coughing, and gave the SUV all it was worth, pulling ahead of the other machine, which had slowed in an attempt to get out of the smoke cloud. Sai touched his throat mike. "Kilala, where are you, kittycat?"

"Kilala ahead of you, stupid kitsune," he heard the bakeneko reply. "Have you in sight."

"Roger. Stand by." He glanced into the rear-view mirror, seeing the other SUV beginning to catch up. "Here's the plan. We can't push them into the wall, so Kilala, I want you to pounce on the other car's hood. Rin and I will jump over and take out the bad guys. Kagome, you stay in support and get ready to pull us out if we get in trouble."

"What?" Kagome replied. "That's a stupid plan! It's even dumber than your usual–"

"Rin, open your door!" Sai shouted, cutting off Kagome. Rin's eyebrows beetled together in confusion, but she shrugged and did so, holding it open with her foot. Sai did the same. "Ready? GO!" And with that, he hit the brakes.

The black SUV went from over 85 kilometers an hour to less than forty in two seconds, dangerously on the edge of a skid. It was effective, though: the tan SUV had no time to react as it went past, neatly smashing into both doors on the right side of the black machine. Sai and Rin had to pull their feet back in quickly or risk having them torn off with the doors, which went with a screech of abused metal and sparks, to smash against both SUVs before ending up in the road.

The tan SUV kept accelerating, the driver still trying to figure out what the maniac in the other vehicle was doing. The man next to him shouted a warning and he looked up, only to see the road ahead blotted out by a mass of yellow fur, two huge red eyes, and a maw of glittering fangs. Kilala, now in her normal form of a giant sabretooth cat, slammed all four paws into the hood of the tan SUV. The tough machine's hood somehow did not buckle and the driver wisely kept his foot off the brake, which probably would have caused the car to go end over end. As it was, the front of the SUV came down hard for a moment on the tires before the shocks compensated. It slowed just enough for Sai to pull alongside. "Grab the wheel, Kagome!" he ordered. "Let's go, Rin!"

"What the–" Kagome scrambled for the wheel as both Sai and Rin suddenly leapt from their seats, out the holes where the doors had been, to land solidly on the tan SUV–Sai on the hood, Rin on the running board. "Baka!" Kagome screamed as she somehow kept the SUV from skidding into a spin. "Baaaakaaaa!"

Kilala dug her claws into the metal, holding herself fast, while Sai hooked one arm around one of Kilala's paws and another through the open passenger-side window. Rin also grabbed the edge of the open window, wobbled for a moment, then drew a straight-bladed sword and rammed it through the door, giving herself a solid handhold. Through the window, she saw the passenger in the back seat raising another shotgun, and quickly squatted down and leaned backwards, both hands on her adopted father's sword, his fur cloak thumping the highway mere inches away from her back. The shotgun blast blew out the window above her, and a few shards of glass cut her face, but Rin's reaction was only a wince. She pulled herself back up to look over the window, only to see that the gunman in the rear seat had not the pump-action single-barreled Ithaca of the man in the front seat, but a double-barreled version–and he had only fired one of those barrels.

"Die, bitch!" the gunman snarled, and pulled the other trigger.The blast was slowed somewhat by the door, but enough remained to catch Rin in the chest, blowing her backwards. Somehow, she kept her grip on the sword's hilt and round pommel, her head bouncing roughly on the pavement as blood and bone fragments exploded from her torso.

"RIN!" Kagome cried out. She had fallen behind the tan SUV as she somehow got into the driver's seat, but now she pressed down on the accelerator, trying to get alongside in a desperate attempt to pull Rin back into their SUV. Suddenly, she realized she had problems of her own as another of the black-suited men leapt from the back of the tan SUV to land solidly on the hood of her own. Two hands grasped the top edge of where the windshield had been, while another pair of arms latched onto the side. Wait a second, Kagome thought, four arms? She looked at the man, but it wasn't a man any longer–not as its face elongated, its jaw unhinged to expose rows of needle teeth and a purple tongue, and its bulging eyes turned poisonous green. "Demon," she breathed.

With catlike agility, Sai climbed down onto the running board, hastily grabbing the rearview mirror with his left hand and grabbing the trailing edge of Rin's furry wrap, roughly jerking her upright. She was pale, her face slack and her eyes closed, gore covering her face even as more blood poured from the hideous wound in her upper chest. Her hands never moved, somehow maintaining a death grip on the hilt of the sword, but the blade had begun coming out of the door, so Sai held her against the holed second passenger door. He was then confronted with the unenviable sight of two shotguns being pointed at his head.

Kilala ducked as the driver fired a pistol through the windshield at her. Now with a pistol port, the driver rammed the barrel of the gun through and fired again at the rather large target sitting on his hood. With a bloom of fire and smoke, however, the sabretooth was gone, and the driver started, now seeing a rather cute kitten holding on almost pathetically by tiny claws, looking decidedly drenched. Flames erupted again, and he blinked. The kitten was gone, replaced by a rather angry, decidedly bizarre hybrid of great cat and blonde woman, who raised a fist that was most definitely aimed for his temple. His finger tightened on the trigger.

The pump shotgun was the nearer of the two, and the man in the backseat was just finished reloading, so Sai decided the Ithaca was the bigger threat for the next second or two. Still holding onto Rin, he pushed his arm through the window and grabbed the barrel. The person holding it only grinned at him, allowing Sai to move the barrel, since now the shot would blow off his left arm. Sai grinned back, and suddenly the interior of the tan SUV lit up in bright blue as lightning arced from Sai's fingers, into the steel shotgun barrel, and into the man holding it. His fingers convulsed on the trigger, but that was a split-second after the gunpowder in the shotgun shell sparked and went off, erupting in the gunman's face. Screaming from the pain of being electrocuted and now with hands pressed to the bloody ruin of his face, the gunman fell backwards into the driver, knocking off his aim. The bullet went wide, missing Kilala. Her punch starred the glass but did not break through, and then the catgirl had to hold on as the driver slammed the wheel to the right, sending the tan SUV towards the concrete dividers.

The demon laughed horribly at Kagome, and lunged into the passenger compartment. Teeth clacked together an inch short of Kagome's throat, but she forced the demon back by ramming her left fist between its eyes. The demon flinched and snorted. "Is that supposed to hurt?" it screeched at her.

"No," Kagome replied. "This is."

In one fluid motion, she let go of the wheel, pulled on the beads on her wrist, and shoved her right hand into the demon's face. It let out a heart-rending scream of terror as it saw infinity for a split-second, and then collapsed inward on itself as it was sucked into the void in the palm of Kagome's right hand. It took less than two seconds to disappear entirely, and Kagome swiftly retied the glove around the black hole before it sucked in more than a foolish demon and rain.

Rin's eyes suddenly snapped open, even as the man in the back seat snapped the double-barreled shotgun closed and aimed it at Sai. He saw the movement and his eyes widened. "That's impossible!" he exclaimed, bringing the gun around to fire it at what his mind told him should be a dead woman. He could see the exposed bone of her sternum, even a bit of lung through the mass of blood and destroyed flesh. And yet she was staring at him with pitiless eyes, her lips dripping blood as they twisted into a rictus of utter hatred.

"I can't die," Rin enunciated clearly, "but you can."

She pulled Tokujin from the door and stabbed it through the hole the shotgun made, leaning forward as she impaled the gunman in the stomach. She began to pull herself through the shattered window, her expression not changing as the man struggled feebly to pull the sword from him, no longer able to even so much as scream. By the time Rin fell onto the back seat, he was already dead, his life force pulled from him by the cursed sword.

Sai opened the passenger door and climbed in as well as the driver straightened out the SUV a moment before it would have crashed into the median. Their eyes met. "Look," Sai said conversationally, over the moans of the passenger almost underneath him, "you've got a pissed off catgirl on your hood, a rather upset immortal girl with a blood-hungry sword in your back seat, and me, an easygoing guy who can make your spine light up like a Christmas tree. Why don't you just make things easy and surrender?"

The driver had to consider only for a moment. He took his foot off the gas and put both hands on the wheel, fingers splayed in a gesture of compliance. Sai nodded and touched the mike at his throat as the SUV began to coast to a halt. "Kagome, this is Sai. We got 'em. You all right back there? I saw somebody jump you."

Her voice came back a little ragged. "I should suck your ass up just like I did his, you moron! I can't believe what you did!"

Otomeinu's voice overrode Kagome's before the latter could rant any further. "Sai, what's the condition of the team? Obviously Kag is okay, since she's griping."

"Oh, you can both bite me!"

"We're fine," Sai said, resisting the urge to smile. "Rin was hit, but it looks like she'll be all right. Kilala's okay too, and so am I. We've got two dead bad guys, one in critical condition, and a smart driver who's going to cooperate fully."

"And the briefcase?"

Sai looked back at Rin. She shakily held up their goal.

"We got it, O."

"Chief?"

The chair turned around from the huge picture window that faced out over the skyline of Tokyo. "What is it, Major Kusanagi?"

"Situation report." Kusanagi did not pause. "Team Eight reports success. They've stopped both SUVs short of the Kesai roadblock and secured what appears to be a Russian suitcase-sized nuclear device."

The old man relaxed visibly. He brushed an errant strand of silver hair out of his face. "That's good to hear. Casualties?"

"Agent Rin Sesshoumaru was wounded briefly."

Something Kusanagi didn't recognize arced through the Chief's yellow eyes for a moment, and he sighed. "Feh. Might as well not even report it when it comes to Rin. Anyone else?"

"Agent Kagome Taijiya reports that she thinks she lost her wits and possibly bladder control, thanks to Agent Sai Ikazuchi." The Major and the Chief shared a laugh at that. Then because the Chief would never ask, Kusanagi added, "Agent Otomeinu Higurashi has a separated shoulder. The medicos are looking at her now...she should be fine as well."

The Chief's eyes narrowed at that. "Taking too many risks, as usual. I want to see her the second she gets back here." He sighed again. "How did the other side do?"

"Four dead. One's being flown to Tokyo General in critical condition–Sai blew his shotgun up in his face. He might pull through, though he'll probably need a new face. The driver surrendered and is in custody."

"Make sure he's brought here. I don't want any of Naraku's assassins getting to him before he can talk. I assume Kagura escaped?"

"Yes, sir. Afraid so. We have an APB out, but..." Kusanagi's voice trailed off. "We'll never catch her."

"Mm. Civilian casualties?"

"Ten car pileup on the southbound Higashi-Kanto. Six injuries reported; nothing serious. A few near misses reported on the northbound lane. There's a Mister Kentaro Oe who reported his motorcycle stolen at Narita Airport...we found what's left of it in a rice paddy near the Miyanogi Interchange. United Delta Flight 337 diverted into Osaka Kansai with a hysterical passenger who swears he saw a catgirl on the wing."

The Chief massaged the bridge of his nose. "Gods..."

"It could have been worse," Kusanagi said helpfully. There was little love lost between her and Otomeinu, but they were on the same side.

"Yes. If that damn nuke had gone off. Still, we're going to have to do some damage control, and that means I get to talk to the Prime Minister in an hour or two." He smiled derisively. "Oh, yes, Major. I definitely want to see Otomeinu Higurashi when she gets here. Immediately." He rested his chin on steepled fingers. "And before you ask, she being my daughter is not going to save her."

Kusanagi smiled thinly. "I didn't think so."