Disclaimer: Inuyasha and any of its characters do not belong to me.


Hunter

Chapter Two

Kagome walked into the monumental cathedral, footsteps echoing throughout the spacious dome as she made her way towards the far back wall where a large classical tapestry hung still and unassuming. Reaching behind it, she brushed her hand along the hidden scanner. With a nearly inaudible beep, a hidden door slid open with a gust and an airy whoosh. She had to force herself to sweep the heavy drapery aside and enter. She progressed up the marble steps and into the large brightly lit sacred chamber with feet that felt like lead.

"The mission was completed and the sacrament successful."

"Very well done, Kagome." Fingers brushed across her cheek.

"Naraku. Back already?"

"You sound disappointed."

Kagome fought the urge to run her blade through his chest. If she could, there would be no hesitation. She'd enjoy every single damn second.

He smiled, dark eyes glowing with an eerie light Kagome always suspected wasn't entirely human.

"You reek of demons. Consorting with the enemy now, oh blessed one?" The invisible chains which bound her to this place snaked up and around her body, driving the breath from her lungs and suspending her off the pristine floors.

Kagome felt the chain tighten around her neck and torso. Yet as her blue eyes glimmered with a bone deep coldness, with her scorching hatred that intensified with each passing day, the satisfied smirk never left her lips.

"Watch your tongue, Hunter," Naraku hissed just inches from her face.

She pulled sharply against the ties that bound her, heedless of the strong burning sensation ripping across her skin and clothes.

"You should be more careful, Naraku. I can see the demons in your eyes," Kagome cautioned, her voice dangerously quiet. "Step over the boundary and I will not hesitate to hunt you down and kill you, with or without the Adonai's blessing."

He gripped her lower face and smirked. From the moving shadows of his bottomless eyes, lurking beneath the veneer of his dwindling humanity, he let her glimpse something deeper and far darker than mere demons.

"By then, it will already be too late."

"Kagome."

"Kagome?"

"It was her sacrament, not mine," Sesshoumaru said to his father as they stood outside the towering gates between hell and the dark stream. The ground was nothing but hard dead earth; the sky a somber gray lined with bitter black clouds and streaks of orange fire, flashes of elemental light.

"Ah, no wonder it felt a little different. Did you talk to her?"

Sesshoumaru shook his head. "She disappeared before I could get the chance."

"She was probably on orders to avoid contact with other Hunters." He sighed then, lamenting the undeserved fate of one such as she. "The Vatican will never let her go. They'd rather see her dead than free, Sesshoumaru."

"Is there no way to release her?"

"You know we aren't allowed to interfere," Touga replied as he glanced at his eldest son with inquisitive eyes. "This is her fight, not ours. As much as we may hate it, there is little else we can do that won't make it harder for her."

"Hnn."

"Kagome's a Hunter, son. She isn't exactly helpless." Slight amusement colored his words as he stared at his eldest.

Far from it, Sesshoumaru thought. She was more than capable of taking care of herself. Leaving the topic of Kagome—ever elusive yet captured Hunter—aside for the moment, he shifted to another. "Has there been any more disturbances?"

Touga shook his head. "It's been relatively quiet lately, which does not bode well at all."

Sesshoumaru had to agree. Something was changing, rippling under this false pretense of silence and peace in both worlds. He could feel it.

"Be watchful and stay alert," Touga advised.

Sesshoumaru gave a small nod before catching the dark stream and returning to his residence in Tokyo.

Touga, fallen angel tied to the duty of a hell watcher and thereby condemning his sons to the Hunter fate, could only gaze at the somber skies of his self-imposed prison.

"Something is amiss."

"You feel it too, Totosai?"

"Every dark being would."

Touga glanced at his ancient gate keeper. "We will have to monitor the boundary closer than ever before."

"Yes, but the cracks will begin to show."

"Hunters, Totosai. It is why we have them."

"Then let us hope they will succeed where we cannot."

Humanity was fleeting. There one moment and gone the next.

Such fragile yet resilient creatures. So easily swayed and corrupted. So easily broken and impossible to fully mend. Humans. They placed such worth on emotions. Love. Hate. Passion. Sorrow. And it was why they were so effortlessly manipulated. A strength one moment. A crippling weakness the next.

Kagome reached out her hand and curled her fingers around a group of rich, sheltered tourists too far away. Clad in short black shorts, a matching sleeveless snap up shirt and gray tank top, she contemplated their short existence. Death walked in their shadows, marred their skin in paper thin lines. They were like ants, crushed without difficulty in their rose-colored world. Ignoring the corruption, the death and decay that crept along every city street, they continued along, heedless and unsuspecting of the demons that waited in the shadows, in the dark recesses of their hearts.

She opened her hand and they were gone, no doubt inside the very dome she stood atop. Stupid humans, if you only knew…

Centuries on Earth, decades bound to the Vatican, or more specifically the Adonai—the Vatican's faction for demon control and led by power hungry corrupts with too many sins and black secrets to count. All this under their facades of righteousness and good-will. It made her itch to kill them all. But of course she couldn't. Their curse kept her from running them through with her kodachi or even putting a bullet in their heads. She couldn't lay a finger on them and they basked in the knowledge of it. One wrong move on her part and it was hours of mind-numbing pain.

But at least they couldn't tap into the dark stream, couldn't trace her movements or destination. She was a Hunter, the only being capable of traveling the rippling shift without being torn apart from the inside out. The Adonai may have her chained to the Vatican, her freedom in their grasps, but when she was on the hunt, not even their summons could pull her away.

Like all Hunters, if one ignored the gravitational pull of duty the aftermath wasn't pretty. Not to mention the hell watchers would rain havoc on you that not even the depths of the underworld would keep you safe from their wrath. There were stories of wings being shredded, of feathers being burned by hellfire. Kagome didn't doubt them for a moment.

She knew how agonizing and weakening damage to one's wings were. It tore apart the heart and mind until blackness became your best friend and you hungered for death. It was how the Adonai had ensnared and bound her. It'd taken years for her wings to mend and grow back. When once she had displayed them proudly, now she refused. Kagome never wanted to suffer that kind of soul-wrenching agony again.

She didn't choose to be a Hunter. It chose her. And who was she to say no to the heavens? This gift—curse?—couldn't be repackaged and sent back. Unless death came knocking and the only way for that to happen to an immortal like her was to swallow her heart in hellfire and then cut off her pretty little head. Not many demons survived long enough to even get close.

As the ancient bell tower tolled noon, faint unnatural whispers caught Kagome's attention. She snapped up straighter. Sifting through all the sounds carried on the wind, she tried to locate the source. Something wasn't right.

There.

She soared off the towering dome, grasping the invisible threads of the dark stream and disappearing mid-air.

Her booted feet touched the charred ground an hour away from Rome. She walked what had once been a garden, now nothing but burnt, black earth. Smoke and ashes, cracks leading to a small humble home that smelled like rotting corpses.

Her eyes flared blue fire and she took off at a swift run, sensing something lurking in the home, about to make its escape. Her kodachi appeared in her hand just before she caught the black shadow slither out from the back and keep to the darkness provided by the overhanging branches of the surrounding trees. Demon.

Kagome's lips curled as its red eyes turned and saw her quick approach. It bolted. Too late. In one giant leap she was upon it, deftly twisting her razor sharp blade in the air and slamming it down, pinning its chest to the ground. Straddling the petrified demon, she grabbed it by the neck and hissed, "What have you done, changeling?"

It tried to slither away, its hollow eyes wild with panic. Kagome twisted the kodachi in mounting fury, ignoring its sharp cry. "Speak!"

"Not me!"

"You dare to lie?"

"Lured by the scent…" it rasped, deathly afraid of this Hunter. It had heard stories of this one. The one with the blue eyes.

Kagome pulled her sleek silver gun from her leg holster and pressed the cool metal hard against its head. "Run and I'll send you straight back to hell in pieces."

It nodded, features shifting to become more human and less like the leathery, deformed elf offspring it was.

Kagome stood, ripping her kodachi from the changeling's chest. It gurgled a sound of relief as she whipped the blade free of black blood and sheathed it. The injury would heal in a matter of minutes. She hadn't inflicted to kill. Tucking her gun in the holster secured around her thigh, she shot the demon a warning look before making her way into the silent home.

The stench of rotting flesh permeated the entire space. Kagome stepped over a body, flesh practically melted off the bones, and knew this had occurred only minutes ago. But why hadn't she sensed the overwhelmingly malevolent force until now?

She entered the living room. Two children were sprawled across the rug, bled to death, skin marred by jagged claws and nearly unrecognizable. Her gut clenched, not seeing an ounce of their blood on any surface. They'd been sucked dry through the gaping, vertical wounds and not a drop had been spared.

Gritting her teeth, she followed the pungent stench into the kitchen where congealing blood smeared the floor. Kagome traced the red path into a bedroom. On the bed and on the carpet were two mangled bodies. Throats ripped out, hearts taken, and flesh corroded just like the one in the hall. Kagome knelt down by the woman's torn upper body, scanning for any clue as to what had possibly done this.

Black blood.

She inhaled and froze. No scent? Each demon carried with it a unique scent. Dark elves, for instance, bled the smell of wilted flowers. Trolls held a strong bitterness and incubi the scent of sweet seductive spice. But this…this black blood was untraceable.

Kagome swept up and headed for the bathroom. If she couldn't instinctively tell what had done this, then she'd have to gather samples and send it elsewhere. She grabbed a few cotton swabs and a small plastic bag, returned to the bedroom and collected what the demon had left behind.

Outside once again, Kagome slowly circled the home, whispering in the ancient words of her kind. Blue hellfire soon swirled around the domicile, ate away the remnants of humanity inside. No trace of what had happened could be left behind.

The changeling crouched back against the trunk of a tree, awed by what it was witnessing. That was until the Hunter swiveled around, engulfed by her thunderous aura, and headed straight for it.

"Start talking," Kagome ordered, towering over the dark elf spawn that had been drawn to the bloodless hearts of the children.

It unfurled its long leathery fingers, blinked its wide eyes before hesitantly nodding. "Dark pull here. Did not know demons, but many from one. Disappear after taking hearts and blood."

Kagome pondered what little information the changeling was able to give. Nothing left a trail like that unless it wanted to be found. Unless she concealed her presence, every demon could sense her. None would dare to try anything with her so close unless they were desperate, stupid, or looking for a one way ticket back to hell. Had this demon or demons been in a rush? Perhaps. Was this a message? A tease? Catch me if you can, Hunter. The latter was more plausible.

She exhaled. Adult humans were one thing, but when children were killed it became a whole other matter. The Adonai was going to have a field day with this.

"Get out of here, changeling, before I change my mind about killing you." It fled into the darkness without a second glance.

Kagome swept her blue eyes over the small piece of land. Ashes danced in the breeze. Death marked the soil a charred grave. It was empty, devoid of the life that had once run free. Already, her fate was calling for black blood. But before she went on the hunt, she needed to make a few visits.

Kagome vanished, traveling the dark stream. Her destination…Tokyo.


to be continued…


A/N: So I finally got my act together long enough to churn this baby out. Thought I'd never continue this, huh? It's my supernatural compulsion at play now…