Obscured Lightning

By Rosy the Cat

Disclaimer: I do not own Phantom of the Opera, Ranma 1/2, Hercules the Legendary Journeys, Xena Warrior Princess, or Sailor Moon. I, furthermore, do not own Master Koga of the Unseen Light. He belongs to Animeaddiction, a.k.a. Hung Nguyen, who is a really-really-really good writer, and I bow to his superior skills. Go read his stuff after you finish reading mine; I COMMAND YOU!

Chapter Three

A year after the fall of Atlantian civilization, Athens

Thundara had decided to stay home from the hunt that night and take over the scheduled watch. It wouldn't be the first time if some idiot thief decided that a large house with many occupants meant great wealth, and they had managed to save some relics and heirlooms in their relocation that they would prefer not to be parted from.

Speaking of thieves...

Thundara's bare feet propelled her silently through the moonlight-pierced shadows to the room she shared with Carnelian, eyes narrowing as she took in the nearly-silent green and blue-clad figure who was hopping up and down with one foot in his hand in the middle of the room. Idiot probably stubbed his toe on Carnelian's blackwood weapons chest.

"Ahem."

The thief turned to face the door just fast enough for his eyes to widen comically as she darted in and slammed him against the far wall, fingers hooked into his tunic as she lifted him off his feet.

"Err...Hiya Andrea. How's things?"

"'Things' will be worse for you if you don't give me a valid excuse for your presence within my home, Autolocus. By the way, nice bracelet."

The smarmy wonder had the audacity to say, "Would you believe I got lost on my way to the Magistrate's? And that the bracelet was a gift from a very grateful princess whose life I saved?"

Her eyes narrowed even further as she whispered menacingly, "I might be more inclined to believe you before that incident in Thebes, Autolocus, and if it weren't for the fact that that bracelet is one of the few items that remains from my dead grandmother's legacy to me."

"...Oops?"

Thundara took a step back, keeping the so-called "King of Thieves" pinned to the wall through sheer force of power, and with a flick of a hand summoned anything that did not belong to him. A truly boggling amount of baubles, brickabrack, and artifacts zipped obediently out of his clothing to hover before her. Even after separating out everything that was either clearly of Atlantian make or she knew to belong to her housemates, a truly staggering amount of the items radiated magic of one sort or another.

"Been to Kali Khat I see, Autolocus."

"Hey, I never said-"

"You didn't have to; this one amulet practically screams death magic, and I've seen some pieces of Hindu work before. What were you thinking, taking something from a temple dedicated to a dark earth goddess of destruction whose worshipers are mostly assassins? You're lucky some high priest or another didn't use it to curse you at a distance!" With a further flick of magic she sent the amulet into a small carved--and heavily warded--jewelry box near her bed. Even as the box snapped shut and the warding activated, Thudara made the mental note to find some reliable adventurer to return the amulet to its owners. Wait, scratch that, she'd find a reliable map and take it herself. The average adventurer had the survival instincts of a brain-dead chipmunk, and would probably try to use the amulet in some half-assed attempt to ward off evil, if they didn't hock it for food, alcohol, or loose women.

"Now who is stealing?"

"At least I can be trusted to return that to its rightful owner without it being used in some demon summoning or a warlord's ignorant attempt at world domination, Auto. Now, what really sent you to my home and rifling through my things?"

After listening to his explanation, she blinked a few times and summed the entire thing up with a distinct tone of incredulity.

"Let me get this straight: you overheard some random comment, in a bar of all places, about some monsters that had slaughtered half a tribe of Amazons, and decided to grab some random 'magic-looking doohicky' on the off chance it would have the ability to defeat the monsters and thus gain the gratitude--and possible riches--of the surviving members of aforementioned Amazon tribe. Is that it?"

"Yep, that pretty much sums it up."

Thundara finally let her head fall into a cupped palm with a groan.

"Figures."

Kino Family Ancestral Home, Okayama, Japan

Kino Kuma sighed as he settled upon the worn stone bench that sat just inside the house complex's courtyard, near the main gate. His keen ears noted the sounds of faithful Kaminari, his guide dog, sitting alertly at his feet even as the beast leaned in for a scratch behind the ears.

How had things come to this?

He'd once been the third of five sons, back when the house and all of the outbuildings echoed with sounds all day, every day--parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins...so many now gone. Of the five, only he had survived the War. Then, his wife had given him two sons; two sons before disease had taken all hope for more. Both sons had waited quite a while before marrying, too, and the eldest had left the Home to make his own: first abroad, where the boy met and married, and then in the bustling capital of Tokyo. Only his second son lived in the Home, he and his wife having left to avoid stepping on toes, and to keep near their eldest granddaughter.

Blind as he was, Kuma knew that little Makoto made her aunt and uncle nervous. After all, of all of his descendants, only she had followed in his Art--at least seriously. Furthermore, as the only child of the eldest son, the house rightfully belonged to her once she came of age. She would one day be the head of the Kino family, unless her aunt and uncle produced a son, which wasn't looking too likely as those two got older. And now with this new development...

Kuma mentally banished his thoughts of family politics. He knew his granddaughter, that she had no interest in such things. What was important was that he keep her from dwelling on what she had lost with her eyesight, and point her toward something lighter, and full of hope.

Kuma smirked ever so slightly and called out, "I heard your foot scuff in the dirt fifteen minutes ago, boy. You're losing your touch."

A warm chuckle spread itself over the courtyard as he heard his visitor move more openly toward him.

"I will have you know, Master Kino, that I only did so to keep a lizard from startling your dog into running off in a chase."

Unseeing eyes glared impotently in the direction of the younger man's voice, accompanied by a mock-scowl, before dissolving into joy.

"I am glad that you could make such good time, young Koga."

"I could hardly refuse a request from you, my friend; you so rarely make them. Now, tell me: what makes you think that this grandchild of yours is so well-
suited to the Unseen Light?"

Kino Makoto snarled to herself as she bumped into a wall for the umpteenth time in the past hour. All she wanted to do was to practice some kata in the middle of one of the many empty rooms the house held, but her sense of direction wasn't helping. Ever since Ba-chan left her in here to her own devices, she kept getting turned around. If she wasn't accidentally sidestepping into a shoji screen, she was stumbling away from a support post that she unintentionally punched, the offending fist cradled protectively.

She hated this. She hated this sense of helplessness, which was compounded by her boredom. Television was pointless, as were books, even, as she had yet to learn braille. In fact, books were even more useless to her at the moment than television, because at least with t.v. she could follow some of what was going on by listening. There wasn't any point, though, because the only stuff on now was soap operas and the like. Bleh.

Defeated, she slid down the wall until the floor met her derriere, which reminded her of one of her weird dreams she'd been having lately. All such thoughts were banished, however, at the soft sound of the shoji leading into the house sliding open, accompanied by the shuffle of slippers, and the smells of perfume, lavender talcum powder, and fresh tea.

"Tea, Makoto dear?"

"Hai, Obasan. Arigato gozaimasu," Makoto replied as she heard the slight clatter of cups and pot on tray as the ensemble was set on the floor, followed by the soft thump of her grandmother seating herself.

After the soft back-and-forth of "One lump or two?" and "Three, please," followed by "What do you think of this new cookie recipe?" and "Yum!", grandmother and granddaughter settled into comfortable silence. This was broken by the arrival of Makoto's grandfather and an unknown--to Makoto--man. After preliminary introductions were made, Koga, younger of the two remaining masters of the Unseen Light , explained just who he was, what he could do, and his offer of tutelage to the newly-sightless Kino heiress.

Makoto thought long and hard, weighing her options. She could take up this man's offer and regain the ability to see and interact with the world, after a fashion, at the cost of time, pain, sweat and effort, though this Koga seemed to think she'd be able to pick it up unusually quick. She suspected that her use of magic as a senshi, combined with what little her grandfather had taught her about ki and chi, might be the reason for that, not that she'd mention that first part of her theories. The upswing to this would be that she could eventually go back to Senshi work, busting youma and saving the world. The down-side...well, that was her having to stay out of school past the summer break if she didn't get this fast enough, but she'd be kept away from Juuban Junior High indefinitely if she stuck to more conventional adaptation methods, and she would be forever kept from her destiny as a Senshi.

"I'm in."

Besides, her trusting the safety of her Princess solely to the other Inners and Chiba Mamoru? Over her cold and dead body. She'd lost Serenity once because she hadn't been there to fight off the unenlightened masses; she wasn't doing it again!

...Okay, where had that come from?

Author's notes: Whoo-hoo! It took nearly a year-long haiatus from this story, but I'm back in the fan fic saddle!

Kali Khat is the original name for Calcutta, in case you were wondering.

-- Rosy the Cat 2-5-06