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Michael "TheZorch" Haney's
"Beneath A Crimson Sky"
On the other side of town in a small ice cream parlor a young martial artist's ultra keen vampiric hearing detected the faint sound of a scream. A scream that sounded familiar. He focused on the sound then immediately realized it was Akane.
"What's wrong?" Yuka asked him noticing his distracted expression. She was still enjoying the huge sundae he'd gotten her. It was expensive but he insisted on buying it for her. She felt so lucky to have found a rich guy.
He turned to her suddenly and Yuka found herself irresistibly drawn to his bright blue eyes. "We had a great time," he told her and she mechanically nodded. She sat there looking off into space for a long time after he darted out of the shop and eventually shook out of it.
"Wow, I hope we have a date like that again." she smiled and went back to her ice cream thinking they'd just had the best date she could ever remember.
Ranma stood on a rooftop in the middle of town and listened. He just knew that sound he head was Akane. However, he realized that he didn't "hear" the scream so much as feel it. It hadn't been a sound but a psychic impression. Most humans were psychic to some lesser or greater degree. It was entirely possible that Akane, being a martial artist, and possessing some minor psychic potential broadcast her thoughts outward. Such events normally only happened during times of great distress. Thus, the pigtailed boy was searching for her high and low.
He abandoned the rooftop and made for the outskirts of town. In the distance he saw an old warehouse and a residential district which rested against the greenery of the forest at the base of the mountains which were in the distance. Ranma felt the scream again, a scream filled with pain, anguish, and a powerful emotion of humiliation. He leapt up to the top of a nearby cell tower and let his vampiric senses take over. He heard not a thing that sounded like Akane, but his other senses felt something else. There was magic nearby.
Stretching out with his senses further Ranma realized that the old warehouse was surrounding by a magical barrier of some sort. That certainly was not normal. With a great leap he left the tower and made his way to the warehouse. His vampiric sight let him see the wards scrawled on the walls in mana energy. He recognized the spell, a basic sound dampening seal. Somebody didn't want people hearing what was going on inside of this building.
Ranma's training told him to not enter the building without backup, especially if a powerful Dark might be in there. It would take too much time to go back to Tendo-ke for Sanangi and John, so he decided to risk going alone. First, though, he pulled a small paper doll out of one sleeve and poured some mana into it. Forming the spell in his mind he released it and tossed the doll into the air. It went up with a popping sound and a puff of smoke taking on the form of a blackbird. It circled the pigtailed boy twice then raced off in the direction of Tendo-ke.
The interior of the building was quiet, too quiet. That unnerved Ranma somewhat. He'd never tested his skills against a vampire like Dragasoni before. If it had only been a matter of skill verses strength then Ranma knew he could win, but that equation flew right out of the window when you added Vampirism. The Russian was an ancient vampire, few really knew how old he truly was. Sanangi had some idea but she didn't like to talk about it too much. She and Dragasoni has dealings in the past, none of them pleasant ones.
The storage rooms of the warehouse was all bare, whatever had been stored here had been moved out a long time ago. The building had an extensive office wing so Ranma started searching there. Finally he came to one large room and stopped dead in his tracks. It showed signs of having been used recently. As he slowly entered his senses picked up the telltale beating of a living human heart. Looking around in the gloom he found the source. She lay on a dirty old mattress in a corner, naked and curled up in a fetal position. Ranma's nose detected the unmistakably musky scent associated with sex coming from her. Ranma immediately began to fear the worst and slowly approached the still figure. It was a girl from the shape of the body's contours and she was young. He turned her over and sighed a deep, anguished sigh. It was Tendo Akane.
Ranma didn't have to examine the girl to know she'd been raped, and rather brutally. Her body sported several large severe bruises which were going to need looking after. Dragasoni's fang marks in her neck were still showing and were still faintly oozing blood. This alarmed Ranma, it meant this didn't happen all that long ago. He stretched out with his senses and nearly didn't detect the attack that came from behind. Rolling backwards he managed to avoid a silver blade which had been thrown at his head.
The pigtailed martial artist sprang to his feet and felt around with his senses for the Russian. He felt "nothing", either meaning the vampire had run off or he was really good at hiding his presence. Ranma guessed it was the later, and kept up his guard. From Sanangi and John's description of his vampire he didn't seem like the type to run away from a fight in which he had the advantage. Dragasoni in this case had a huge advantage over Ranma.
The next attack came from the side which surprised the martial artist since there was nothing but a barren wall there. Plaster and bricks erupted outward as the big Russian plowed through it and body tackled Ranma. The pigtailed martial artist relied on his training to minimize the damage caused by the fall and to avoid the crushing blow from Dragasoni's elbow. The Russian looked at him with feral eyes filled with blood lust and licked his lips. The sight made Ranma's skin crawl. Sanangi was right, this guy was an Animal!
Ranma sprung to his feet about as fast as Dragasoni, despite his size, and fell instantly into a defensive fighting stance. He had no idea how long he could hold out against this superior vampire but there was no other choice. He had to wait and buy time for his messenger to reach his friends at Tendo-ke. There was Akane to worry about also. The best he could do was keep the Russian occupied until the cavalry arrived ... he hoped.
What amazed Ranma the most was how fast the big vampire was able to move. The Russian was a massive man, not in the same way his father was massive, but massive in sheer bulk. Dragasoni appeared to be almost all muscle. A huge meaty fist went for his head, a haymaker blow intended to take off his head. It came in so fast Ranma was barely able to dodge it in tine and could actually feel the air from his passing. He wasn't able to read the impending attack in the Russian's body either, he wasn't telegraphing his moves, and this last revelation really worried Ranma.
Dragasoni on the other hand was having the time of his life. He was coming off of the high of having his way with that little girl and now his quarry practically delivered himself for execution. He was a bit impressed with Ranma's prowess, but it wasn't anything he hadn't seen before or hadn't learned before. He had centuries to master many different martial arts and fighting styles from different countries. There was nothing in the contract that said Ranma's destruction had to be immediate, so Dragasoni decided to play with him for a while. He smiled when the pigtailed boy failed to dodge one his hand swipes and went flying to a nearby wall. Oh, yes, this was going to be a lot of fun.
Sanangi sat alone on the roof of Tendo-ke just enjoying the view of the stars. Despite the street lights, up here on the roof of the house you could still make out a few stars in the night sky. It was relaxing to just look up at them. Her vampiric hearing picked up the Tendo patriarch crying downstairs about his youngest daughter having not returned home yet. This didn't concern her at first, after all as far as she was able to determine they hadn't been found yet. She knew it was a matter of time though. No, the girl was probably staying at a friend's house doing whatever it was teenage girls in this day and age usually do. John was on the back porch sitting alone carving a koala bear out of a small piece of wood.
The flapping of wings and the cry of a blackbird caught her attention. The bird circled her twice then landed on the roof next to her. It walked towards her, its head bobbing sd it did, then instantly it morphed from the shape of a bird into a piece of paper. Sanangi grabbed it before it was blown away on the night breeze and looked at what was written on it. Her vampiric vision could see the kanji written there as clear as day. She caught her breath and leapt down from the roof.
"John, Ranma needs us!" she shouted to him and sprang off over the wall surrounding Tendo-ke. John didn't have time to ask hearing the urgency in Sanangi's voice. He soon caught up to her as they flew towards the outskirts of town.
The pigtailed martial artist was starting to think coming in here without his friends to help had been a really bad idea. He had speed and skill, but so did Dragasoni. Most of all the Russian had centuries of fighting experience. To put it bluntly, Ranma was being outclassed. He now sported several vicious looking bruises to his face and arms and had a shallow cut on his right shoulder which hurt like a sonuvabitch because it was caused by a silver blade. Silver weapons hurt vampires.
He was forced to call upon his reserves of mana to bolster himself, but those reserves were finite, and he was starting to run low. Dragasoni had recently feed and was going full steam. Ranma knew he wouldn't hold out much longer, he only hoped his friends would get here soon.
Dragasoni smirked, he knew the boy was weakening. He could see it in his face, read it in his body language, and even sense it. The time to end this game was coming quickly. He made a grab for Ranma, a move the boy tried to dodge but wasn't fast enough. With a powerful heave he through Ranma across the room and into the only wall which was still intact in the office area. It was the wet wall, and when the boy hit the pipes burst and water that had been trapped inside for years came pouring out. The Russian slowly strolled up intending to deal the finishing blow to end this and earn his pay but then he noticed something about his quarry had suddenly changed.
Laying amid the ruined chucks of wall plaster, bricks and busted pipes wasn't a young, dark haired boy, but a busty, young red headed girl.
"Jusenkyo," the Russian said in an amused tone. This was certainly proving to be rather interesting. His employers never said anything about this to him, which was a surprise, but it would have been a nice piece of information if they had included it. This new fact made the Russian alter his strategy somewhat. His employers wanted him to destroy Ranma, they didn't tell him how they wanted it done and how long it should take. Yes, he'd destroy Saotome, he would destroy him, but before he dealt the final blow ... he break him.
"Don't ... touch ... me," Ranma said weakly as Dragasoni picked her up in his powerful arms.
He grabbed the back of her head by the hair and draw her head back. "I was going to destroy quickly, but now I change my mind." the Russian said.
"Da, before I send you to oblivion I am going to break you," and with that said he plunged his fangs into Ranma's neck and drank lustily. The redhead tried to fight but she was growing weaker by the second. The Russian didn't drink long, just enough to weaken her more. Unable to fight back, barely able to move, Ranma felt herself being carried into another room where she was bent over an old office table.
Ranma panicked and a small amount of strength she didn't know she had came back to her as she felt her pants and boxers being pulled down, but the Russian's hands where like iron and she was still too weak to do anything.
"I'll ... fucking ... kill ... you," she said still trying to struggle, desperation and terror was evident in her blue eyes now. That fear hit it peak when she felt something press against her lower regions, then it began to invade her.
"AAAAHHHH!" she yelped, her body pushed against the desk. Panic, fear, revulsion, humiliation all came to the surface at once and Ranma tried one final time to escape but to no avail. She was helpless in the ancient vampire's grasp as he took her behind. Finally, emotional and physical exhaustion took their toll and all she could do was quietly cry and tried to drown out the sound of the Russian's lusty grunts and groans.
Flying towards the outskirts of town took them twenty minutes. They weren't at top speed, Sanangi didn't want to accidentally overshoot the place they were looking for. Grasping the magic message in her hand she followed its trail until it lead them both to an old abandoned warehouse. The two vampires immediately detected the sound dampening wards and ventured inside. It was as quiet as a tomb. Both stretched out with their senses and felt for any sign of activity. John detected the faint beating of a human heart and he flew in that direction with Sanangi following. They found the office section of the building in near ruins.
"Cricky, our boy Ranma musta given em one hell of a thrashing," John said quietly.
Sanangi replied quietly, "I fear it might be the other way about, love."
They found Akane first, she was still laying on the mattress and was once again in a fetal position. Sanangi examined her while John guarded them both. She sighed sadly when she found evidence that the girl had been violated. The girl had been drained of a lot of blood, not enough to kill her, but enough to keep her incapacitated until her body could produce more. There was something else, a certain faint, telltale smell ...
"That bastards," she hissed, recalling that smell.
"What is it, Sheila?" John asked quietly.
She turned mournful eyes up at John and replied, "She's turning, he forced her to drink some of his blood. She'll be one of us soon."
"Oh sugar," John cursed, anger now showing on his face.
"We must find Ranma and take Akane to safety, then we can deal with the Russian." Sanangi said in a whisper and put a hand on the Aussie's shoulder. With seemingly no effort at all she lifted Akane into her arms and the two vampires resumed their search of the offices. A short time later they came to another room, light from a street lamp came pouring in through a broken window illuminating the scene before them. Giving a gasp of fear and regret, Sanangi quickly handed Akane over to John and she raced over to the crumpled form of Ranma-chan on the floor.
"Oh, Ranma love ... no," she whispered, tears in her eyes. The redhead lay there beaten and battered on floor, her black pants and boxer shorts pulled down around her ankles. A slick wetness coming from between the girl's legs gave the African Princess the first indications of what had happened to her dear friend.
"No ... please no ... don't be gone," Sanangi sobbed quietly as she brushed the young girls crimson locks with her ebony hand. She felt a brief but weak impulse come from the girl. Desperately, she grabbed Ranma up into her arms, pulled down one side of her collar and positioned Ranma's head there at her exposed neck.
"Drink, please ... drink," Sanangi pleaded. She felt the girl in her arms barely move, her head moved just enough to get in the right position, then felt Ranma's fangs lightly prick her skin, then slowly piece deeper. She let Ranma drink for five minutes, it wasn't enough to diminish the strength of the African Princess, but it was enough to get Ranma back on her feet. The redhead had a sad, defeated look in her eyes. When she looked at Akane, Sanangi could see regret and self-loathing in her expression.
Sanangi told her, "There was nothing you could have done, love. He was too powerful for you."
"I ... failed to ... keep ... my promise to ... Kasumi-chan," Ranma replied weakly.
John said, "Be thankful ya still got ya blooming head."
"John," Sanangi berated him. "Ranma love, you did your best which is more than enough. There aren't many young vampires who can stand up to a vampire like that monster and survive for long." She hoped these encouraging words would touch Ranma's ego, assuming Dragasoni hadn't completely crushed it.
Ranma leaned against her and cried silently. She then said, "He beat ... me ... then he ... raped me." The redhead's shoulders shook as sobbing overcame her. Sanangi could do nothing but hold her and try to comfort her. John was starting to look worried.
"Sheila, I'm think we might wanna be getting while the getting good," he warned. The seriousness of their vulnerable position came to Sanangi and she nodded in agreement. They sensed no sign of the Russian anywhere around as they left the warehouse and flew back to Tendo-ke. Little did they know the real reason for why they got away so easily.
Dragasoni let out a loud groan as his body shivered from his second orgasmic release. The redhead had no hymen either, like the other young girl, but that didn't really matter. With his lusts quenched for now he pulled up his pants and let the boy turned girl fall to the floor. He could tell he was her first man, and he enjoyed ever moment of it because he knew every moment of it was torture from his quarry. If there was one thing he enjoyed more it was making people suffer.
However, there were some things to taking into account. Sanangi and John Powder were in town, and it wasn't a foregone conclusion that Ranma might have sent them a message letting them know where he was. He wasn't ready to confront those two just yet. They weren't like the boy, they wouldn't be so easily beaten. Especially Sanangi, because she was an ancient vampire also, and highly skilled. John wasn't as old, he was skilled, and with Sanangi to back him up they'd both prove to be headache.
There was no guarantee that Ranma hadn't sent them a message, so Dragasoni decided caution was best and putting an end to this game now was the best choice. It really was too bad, he wanted to pay with his quarry's female body some more but alas it was not to be. From his jacket he withdrew a long silver blade and held it over Ranma's body. He calculated the position of the girl's heart and was about to plunge the blade downwards. For a vampire it would have been a lethal blow.
"Do not slay," came the harsh whispered words from the shadows. The voice was like that was many speaking at once in an emotionless, dreadful chorus.
Nothing ever frightened the big Russian, but the sound of that voice sent a shiver down his spin. This was only because he knew "what" that something was which spoke. The real question, though, in his mind was why the hell they were here. What did they want with the boy?
"I was contracted to destroy this one, why?" he demanded, anger overriding his better judgment. He was taking a chance, he knew exactly what "they" could do to him.
"Do not slay, a purpose we have for this one," the voice in the shadows said again in that same harsh whisper.
Grunting, the Russian stood up and put away the blade. "What am I supposed to tell my employers, I have a reputation to uphold?" he asked the shadows. Through one of the broken walls he could see a pair of sickly yellow eyes peering back at him. The sight made him shiver, he'd only once seem "them" in person and he would rather not relive that experience again.
"Already dealt with, pay is in account," the thing in the shadows replied.
He turned to leave and headed for the room where Akane lay on the mattress. "Fine," he grunted angrily, but at least he'd leave with a trophy. He'd made her drink his blood, soon she'd be like him and he be able to keep her for a good long while as a plaything until he tired of her.
"Leave her," the voice whispered from another hole in the wall as Dragasoni kneelt to pick up the girl.
Furious now, he turned towards the shadows and the yellow eyes staring unblinking at him and raged, "She's mine! I'm turning her!"
"Disobey us not," the voice warned, and suddenly the Russian collapse to the floor writhing in agony. The yellow eyes looking on in the darkness showed no emotion at all.
"Forgotten have you the pact you made," the voice reminded him. "Forgotten have you that you belong to us."
Still writhing in agony, the Russian gasped out, "Alright, alright, I'll obey! I'll obey!" The pain stopped and slowly Dragasoni climbed to his feet and composed himself. The yellow eyes continued to look at him dispassionately. Then a second set of eyes appeared next them.
"Holy shit, two of them are here," he whispered under his breath. He'd never known an instance where more than one of them was needed to be anywhere. There must be something about that boy that was incredibly important to them. Finding out what that was wasn't going to easy because "they" often weren't very forthcoming and rarely shared their secrets. It was because they shared some of their secrets with him in the past that he was in this situation. In return for learning ancient, forgotten, and forbidden spells he was pretty much their property but was allowed to do as he pleased until they called for him. They called for him only twice since their relationship began centuries before, it was at that time that he saw what they really looked like. The memory still gave him nightmares.
"Leave this place, hide until called for," the voice commanded. Giving the girl on the mattress a forlorn look he left the building and darted off into the night only minutes before Sanangi and John arrived. As the pair searched the building and found their friends they were completely unaware that they were being watched by inhuman, emotionless eyes from the shadows.
Sanangi and John arrived at Tendo-ke and there was a sudden panic as Nabiki and Soun both took in Ranma and Akane's conditions. The middle Tendo sister, her face pale with worry followed Sanangi up to Akane's room where they tucked the naked girl into bed. Downstairs Kasumi had grabbed a wet washcloth and was wiping away the dirt from Ranma's face. Many of the bruises on her face caused by Dragasoni had faded because of the small amount of blood she got from Sanangi. Soun's waterworks were going full stream and eventually the Aussie had to cast a sleep spell on the man to get him to shut up. Sanangi came back downstairs and immediately went over to Ranma. Nabiki followed her and stood in the middle of room.
"What the hell happened to my sister?!" she demanded, taking in Ranma-chan's beaten and battered appearance she was almost too afraid to ask. The fact that her sister was completely naked didn't look good and the very thought of what might have happened was too horrible for Nabiki to contemplate.
"I asked you a question?!" Nabiki reached and yanked on Sanangi's shoulder. She snapped her hand back as the ebony skinned princess' eyes suddenly turned bright crimson and from her throat came a feral, inhuman growl.
"Nabiki, please calm down," Kasumi, who was also pale with worry told her.
"How ... long," Ranma said, they all heard her and looked at her." How long ... for Akane?"
"What does he mean by that?" Nabiki asked, a feeling a dread creeping up her spine now. She felt Kasumi grip her shoulders reassuringly. The eldest of the Tendo sisters wasn't too certain what had happened either but from the looks of Ranma's injuries it wasn't good. It wasn't good at all.
Sanangi sighed, "Its different with everybody, love. It could be tonight, it could be tomorrow."
Ranma tried to stand up and found several hands pushing her back down. Even Nabiki was pushing her back down. Whatever had happened to her sister, Ranma had been there, was probably trying to stop it and her current condition was the result. It was the only explanation she could reason from all of this.
"You are still too weak," Sanangi told Ranma.
"My ... responsibility," Ranma said. "Promised Kasumi, would protect ... her ... family." Kasumi's heart skipped a beat hearing that and the resolute determination in Ranma's weak voice. She knelled down next to the smaller girl and held her close. She felt Ranma's shoulders shake as the girl cried into her chest.
"Someone, please just tell me what is going on," Nabiki said in a less hysterical, and more under control tone. Sanangi turned towards her with sad eyes.
"You're sister was hurt by someone very dangerous," she explained. "Ranma tried to protect her, but that someone was far too powerful for him. They're both lucky to be back home in one piece."
"Who is that someone?" Nabiki asked.
"Sheila, she'd gotta be told," John said to Sanangi. "Her little sister is turning and she's going to find out soon or later so she might as well find out now."
Sanangi sighed and nodded, she knew he was right. Before she could speak Kasumi said, "Let me talk to her." Gently handing Ranma off to Sanangi, the eldest Tendo sister stood and took Nabiki out into the hallway.
"What is this all about?" Nabiki asked her sister.
With sad eyes Kasumi replied, "It partly has to do with mother and the work she used to do. Work which I've taken over in her place as her chosen successor."
"What work?" Nabiki demanded.
Kasumi looked back into the room at Ranma who lay on the floor, her head on Sanangi's lap. The redhead was breathing hard and looked absolutely terrible. It hurt to see her that way, and Kasumi know there was only one way in which Ranma was going to be able recover. She could explain everything to Nabiki until she was blue in the face but she wasn't certain her younger sister would believe a word of it unless she was it for herself.
"Ranma and his two friends are very special," Kasumi explained. "They belong to a secret order which has sworn an oath to protect people and mother worked from that secret order using our home as a safe house for them in time of need."
Nabiki looked at incredulously, "You've got to kidding."
"I'm not," Kasumi replied. "they aren't like normal people, Nabiki. They're different from you and me. I know it hard for you to believe me but there is only one way for you to understand, and that is for me to show you."
Kasumi went back into dinning room and with Sanangi's help got Ranma into a seated position. The ebony skinned princess knew what the girl wanted to do. There were protocols that needed to be observed in doing this.
"I, Tendo Kasumi, who swears by the crimson bond that links us both, offers to give to this one who has fought against the darkness." she said. It had been years since her mother taught her the old protocols, but she remembered them all word for word.
"I who serves the order, the circle of life, and the crimson that flows and links us both must know if you Tendo Kasumi gives this willingly to he whom fights the darkness of her own free will without coercion?" Sanangi said reciting the next part of the formal protocol. Nabiki watched with fascination. She'd seen complex ceremonies before and she knew special protocols when she saw them. What exactly was going on here?
Kasumi replied, "I give this of my own free will, let that which flows from me give strength to this one in his time of greatest need."
"John," Sanangi whispered. The Aussie nodded.
"I, whom also serves the circle of life, and the crimson that flows and links us both do bare witness that Tendo Kasumi gives of her own free will to this one whom in greatest need."
Sanangi smiled at Kasumi, "Its been several hundred years since the formal ceremony of the giving of blood was conducted. I'm impressed you knew all of the verses."
"My mother taught them all to me," Kasumi replied.
"Giving of blood?" Nabiki asked curiously, wondering if Ranma needed a transfusion. If that was so they could contact Dr. Tofu for that. She was about to suggest it when Kasumi unbuttoned the front of her dress and pulled one side down exposing her neck. Ranma looked up at her weakly, a pleading look in her eyes, but Kasumi looked back at her with adoration and concern.
"Its alright," she told the redhead. "I trust you Ranma-chan." She drew the girl close, putting her head in position where it would be close to her neck and waited. Nabiki wasn't sure what was happened here, then an awful realization suddenly began to dawn on her. She thought it was just her imagination at first but she watched as Ranma weakly raised her head to look into Kasumi's eyes. The eldest of the Tendo sisters gave her a tender kiss on the forehead then leaned her head to the side. Nabiki watched in horrified fascination as Ranma opened her mouth revealing two long, sharp fangs. Slowly, the redhead covered Kasumi neck with her lips, then there was the faint sound like ripping cloth. Kasumi gasped and closed her eyes, John came around behind her and held her up steady. There was a faint slurping sound as Ranma began to drink.
"We are forbidden to take blood from innocents without permission," Sanangi explained to a wide eyed, and heavily breathing Nabiki. "It is the oath we took to be a part of the Order of the Crimson Circle, an oath to protect humanity rather than become its bane."
"Vampires," Nabiki breathed, almost disbelieving her own words, but the truth of it was right there in front of her.
"Yes, all three of us are," Sanangi admitted to her. Nabiki looked from her to Ranma and then to John whot smiled at her.
"The one who did this to Ranma hurt your sister, love," Sanangi explained. "Ranma tried to fight him, despite warnings from me that he was too powerful for him to take on alone. When we arrived the place we found them in looked like a war zone. Ranma love put up a good fight but it wasn't enough."
"We duh no where the bloke is, Sheila," John added. "He was gone when we found Ranma and you're little sis. Ranma and the bloke had one good tussle thought from the looks of the place."
Ranma sat up, she was immediately looking better but still looked battered. Kasumi was pale and looked frail. She sagged a bit and she caught her in her arms and gently stroked her hair. Holding her close to her Ranma gentle spoke words which to Nabiki's ears almost sounded like a prayer. A golden glow surrounded her and Kasumi and her older sister let out a faint gasp and almost immediately looked better. When the glow subsided Kasumi leaned forward and gave Ranma a gentle kiss on the cheek.
"W ... w ... w ... what was that?" she asked, fear rooted her to the spot where she was when this all started. Fear and a morbid fascination.
"As vampires in Order of the Crimson Circle we are granted divine healing powers by Kami-sama in return for our continued pledge to use our powers to fight evil." Ranma told her.
"Don't be afraid, Nabiki," Kasumi reassured her. "They're good people. Mother worked for the order for many years before her death and during that time she groomed me to be her successor. I just was not expecting to have to take up the role as quickly as I did." John came out of the kitchen and pour a cup of hot water on Ranma changing him back into his male form.
Nabiki asked, "Was her death related to this work?" She had to know. Nabiki wasn't so closed minded that she couldn't believe in good vampires. Her fear was slowly beginning to fade away as logic and reasoning reasserted themselves in her mind. The initial shock was beginning to fade. Of the entire household, save for Kasumi, she was best equipped to deal with shocking information like this.
Kasumi shook her head, "No, mother's death was an accident."
"Had you're mother's death been the act of one of our enemies, love, we would have known about it and would have exacted terrible retribution upon the ones responsible." Sanangi explained. "The deaths of every Watcher is investigated thoroughly."
"I have to goto Akane," Ranma said and stood up. He was still wobbly on his feet but was able to stand.
"Not in that condition you aren't, love." Sanangi told him and tried to make him sit back down. "Not until you feed again and regain the rest of your strength."
"You feed totally thought willing contributions," Nabiki inquired. Something deep within her told her she should be freaking out right about now, but there was also something strangely exhilarating in all of this. It was a feeling like she was a part of something bigger than her, something powerful.
Sanangi shook her head, "We can't take blood from innocents without permission, but when it comes to the scum of the earth they are open season."
"Wait, what is happening to Akane?" Nabiki asked remembering their comments from earlier.
"Love, the one who attacked your sister was what we call a Dark," Sanangi explained to her. "A Dark is an evil vampire who rejects the laws of the Crimson Circle, and we are pledged to destroy them. One of the worst crimes a Dark can commit is forcing someone to become a vampire against their will."
"That's how I became one," Ranma said sadly.
"Oh no," Nabiki gasped and run for the stairs.
"Nabiki!" Kasumi called after her.
"Hurry, if Akane awakens with Nabiki up their alone it would bad," Ranma said urgently and they all ran for the stairs and went straight to Akane's room. They found Nabiki sitting next to Akane's bed. The youngest Tendo sister looked very different, she was pale, thin and almost skeletal, and her breath came in shallow gasps.
"Cricky, she's in stage three already," John commented.
"It will not be long," said Sanangi.
"I gave an oath to protect this family, I failed to protect Akane, so I'll be her guardian." Said Ranma.
Sanangi replied, "You're still too weak for that. Unless ..." She turned towards Nabiki who's eyes suddenly went wide. Kasumi turned her eyes towards Nabiki pleadingly. Without so much as a word or a sound Nabiki leapt up and sprinted from the room. Ranma blurred vanishing from the room to follow her. He was going to have to explain all of this to her, he figured she was taking it all too well and that the real shock of learning the truth hadn't truly hit yet. He trusted Sanangi and John to keep Kasumi safe from Akane until he got there. He declared himself Akane's guardian, a vampire who served as teacher for a newly reborn vampire and instructed them in the ways of the Crimson Circle. It was the least he could do to help the Tendo clan.
Following Nabiki wasn't hard, he just followed her scent, all the way to the dojo. There he found her. She gasped in surprise when she saw him and she tried to bolt for the door but he caught her before she could get away and he pulled her into his arms and held her. She screamed and beat her fists against this body, but her hits were nothing to him. Finally, after a short while she calmed down. When he leaned his head towards her she clenched her eyes. Expecting pain she was surprised as the pigtailed boy ran a series of kisses down her neck.
"I swore to Kasumi to protect your family, and I swore an oath to the order to never do hard to innocents," he said softly. "I'd never deliberately hurt you or your family, ever. We shared something intimate not long ago, I could have taken you then, but I didn't because of the oath I took. Please, I need you to trust me Nabiki-chan."
The girl wasn't struggling anymore as he held her but she didn't say anything. "I was turned in a violent manner, just like your sister." he explained. "The one who did it to me attacked me after Jusenkyo when I was vulnerable. I couldn't stand the thought of that happening to anyone else, let along your sister. That's why I went in alone, I had to do something, I couldn't just wait. But I wasn't strong enough, and that bastard too advantage of my curse and ... and he beat me and took advantage of me when I couldn't fight back. I fought so hard, so damn hard, but I couldn't stop him. I tried so damn hard, I was so tired, so beaten up, so weak. I felt so helpless, so useless, I felt like a failure. Do you know what it feels like to be violated by someone and you have no way to fight back? He was right there behind me ramming he from behind, fondling me, I could hear him moaning in my ear as he fucked me, and I was totally helpless to stop him. I don't want to ever feel that way again, and I never want anyone else to ever feel like that again. I want to help your sister, show her the path I walk and teach her the way of the order so that together we can both rip that rapist sonuvabitch to fucking pieces so he can't never make anyone else suffer. Its time he learned what suffering means."
To his surprise he felt Nabiki's arms encircle him, when she looked up at him her eyes were filled with tears and leaned towards to kiss him on the lips. They held one another for a long time and kissed. Finally, still in each other's arms Nabiki pulled down one side of her shirt collar.
"Its ok," she said, with a smile.
"Thank you," he said and kissed her lips again before going down to her offered neck.
"Will it hurt?" she asked.
The answer came when she felt his lips form a seal over her neck and the two needle like fangs pierced her skin. It didn't hurt though, in fact a wave of sensations washed though Nabiki which were similar to and perhaps even more intense than an orgasm. She held onto him tightly as he drank, her body convulsed only slightly as the waves of pleasure were just barely enough for her stand. It was over almost as quickly as it begun and she immediately felt very tried and sagged into Ranma's arms. On the verge of sleep she heard him whisper that same incantation again and the golden glow surrounded them. She immediately felt better.
"Lets go, its almost time for your sister to be reborn," Ranma said and lead Nabiki back up the stairs to Akane's bedroom. They watched the girl on the bed, her face pale and gaunt, fitfully tossing about and convulse as the vampire's blood she ingested slowly sapped her life force, transforming her into the undead.
"She's close," Sanangi said in a whisper. Kasumi dabbed at Akane's face with a wet wash cloth. She knew it was a useless gesture but she had to do something to help ease her sister's change. Finally, the convulsing stopped, her breathing faltered, and the young girl on the bed lay deathly still.
"Get her out of there!" Sanangi shouted and John pulled Kasumi away. They went to the far side of the room where the two of them placed themselves between Akane's dead form and two Tendo sisters. Ranma advanced, after kissing a sobbing Nabiki on the cheek, and sat down on Akane's bed.
"This is how it was for me," he said quietly.
Akane's eyes flew open and she sat bolt upright in bed. Her eyes fixed on Kasumi and Nabiki across the room and they turned a bright crimson and a pair of long, sharp fangs suddenly appeared. She tried to lunge towards them but Ranma caught her and forced her back. Akane hissed like a angry cat and attacked him, intending to kill whatever tried to get between her and that which she craved more than anything ever before in her entire life. The hunger, the need to plunge her fangs into her sister's neck was more than anything she could endure, it overwhelmed her willpower, and she became like a feral animal which had been starved.
Ranma remembered being like this when he first awakened. He attacked the first person he saw, which had been another vampire, and that person had willingly accepted him. That vampire, whom had been his guardian was Sanangi.
"Akane ... take me!" Ranma cried out and pulled off his shirt. Seeing this the girl lunged for him, he caught her holding her tight, as she plunged her fangs into his offered neck and began to drink. After a few minutes, he pulled her away, she was reluctant to stop feeding but the ravenous hunger wasn't as great anymore. Her appearance had changed also, she didn't look like she was wasting away anymore and perhaps even looked beautiful. She looked about the room, everything was different, she could see in colors and with a clarity she'd never known before. All kinds of familiar and foreign smells reached her nose and she could hear everything.
"What ... what happened to me?" she asked tiredly leaning into Ranma's embrace. Soon she closed her eyes and fell into a deep slumber.
"Welcome to a new world," Ranma said gently as he stroked her hair. Sanangi and John allowed the other Tendo sister to approach. Kasumi stood at the foot of the bed smiling at her sister and her new beautiful appearance. Nabiki wrapped her arms around Ranma and hugged him protectively.
"Now the real work begins," Sanangi said, referring to the task of training Akane up in the way of the Crimson Circle. They had a long hard road ahead of them.
At the monastery in China runners came to bring Master Lee an important message. When the messenger was allowed into his chambered he opened the magically secured scroll and rolled it out. After reading it his face paled, he wasn't sure what to make of this report, and he wasn't certain if this was good news to a portent to some evil to come.
The members of the Crimson Circle assigned to watching the compound of the Shangshi witnessed a dark shadow pass across the compound. There was the brief sound of combat within its walls, then all went silent. A few operatives went in to investigate. All of the Shangshi, including it leader, the one who had hired Dragasoni, had all been slain.
Coming soon in Chapter 7:
Dragasoni appears to have mysteriously vanished without a trace. The task of teaching Akane how to control her blood lust and live the way of the Crimson Circle begins in earnest with Ranma as her guardian. Meanwhile, something shadowy is moving into Nerima. The Lost Boy arrives.