Echoes of the Past
Chapter 1: Alisa
The man is fast. Faster than he should be. Faster than any human has any right to be. It's the first time in centuries I've been forced to work hard to catch someone, though early in the chase I know I will. As fast as he is, I am faster. My blond hair trails behind me as I leap from rooftop to rooftop, keeping his white-clad form in view.
In many ways he is an enigma. He is very fast and very strong, if his ability to leap is any indication. Likewise his senses are very, very acute. By the laboured keening of his breath and the erratic heartbeat, indicative of fear, he knows I'm following him and he's not happy with the idea. Everything he is tells me that he is like me, when earlier this evening I was certain of the fact that I'm the last of my, or perhaps our, kind.
Then again, the one thing that defies all that is the smell of him. He smells slightly of sake, underneath the combination of fresh and stale sweat which permeates the air around him. What he does not smell of is the faint, sweet smell of snake venom which is the telling scent which would give him away as being like me.
He makes a mistake when he chooses to leap across a wide road. His lead counts for little as the high arc of his jump leaves him hanging in mid-air, an irresistable target. My superior speed quickly closes the distance between us and I dive through the air, arms wide to grab him.
Allow me to clarify something: I am an expert in over a dozen martial arts. I've had five thousand years to practice, after all. My ludicrously good senses combined with my speed, strength, and agility mean I am very likely the most dangerous hunter that exists. However, this balding man, grinning slightly as he twisted in mid-air, somehow contrived to brace his hands on my biceps and twist his body to divert me face-first into the front of a shop and give himself an extra bit of lift.
I hear him chortling to himself as he bounds off, thinking me defeated. The poor bastard doesn't realize that now, now I'm really going to kill him. Painfully. I ignore the questioning shopkeeper and leap back up to the roof. The man happens to glance back as he flees, and his grin falls and he blanches at the look in my eyes.
Flee, little mortal. I'm coming. No longer bothering with the thrill of the hunt, I close the gap between us a lot faster. Soon after we reach the edge of town he skids to a stop as he turns to face me, setting the bag down in front of him and stepping back.
"I'm sorry, Perne-san," the man says in Japanese, his deep voice jovial and respectful all at once. "Had I known you were such a competent martial artist, I wouldn't have dared steal from you. I'm not looking for a fight. Please, take your belongings back with my apologies."
"I'm not here for those. I don't care about them," I spat in fluent Japanese, taking a step forward. "Just who the hell are you?"
"My name is Genma Saotome," he admits with a small chuckle, scratching the back of his neck in what appears to be a nervous habit. "Just a petty thief."
"No thief can move like you do," I point out.
"Now that's something I'm not interested in discussing," Genma says, lowering his center of gravity and raising his arms. "Look, miss, I'm not interested in fighting. What do you say to just taking your stuff back and calling it quits?"
"I'm sorry, but no," I say, readying myself to close the distance between us. "You're going to tell me all about the evil bastard who made you what you are, and why I can't smell the scent of his mark on you."
"Nobody evil had a hand in making me what I am," Genma chortles. I can hear the lie in his voice.
Only Yaksha could have done this. Only Yaksha was strong enough to have created a newborn vampire with this much strength and speed. Obviously he'd chosen a skilled martial artist as well. There were too many coincidences. I knew that something had been killing our kind. I'd thought my creator dead for many centuries. Obviously that belief was wrong.
This thief angle was a pathetic ploy for an assassin to hide behind... yet it felt like the truth to me. More importantly: Why would Yaksha create a new vampire if he was the one behind all the disappearances of our kind?
My doubts were pushed ruthlessly to the side as I close with my foe. He is fast and strong, yet I am faster and stronger. He is greatly skilled in martial arts. More than I am, to my surprise. Yet this skill he possesses does not make up for the relative lack of strength and speed. He fares well for the first dozen or so strikes. Then one of my punches slips in, cracking his ribs. He blocks the next three blows before I break his arm.
In the face of the immense pain he must be in, I'm surprised that he deflects two more punches with a broken arm and cracked ribs. Then I sweep his feet from under him and stomp on his chest. His breath comes in desperate wheezes.
"Are there any like you?" I demand, and he shakes his head. Another lie. I press my foot harder, my excellent hearing allowing me to percieve the very slight groan of his ribs in protest. I can only imagine how much it must be magnifying the pain he's feeling. "Where?"
"I'm not going to give him up to you," he growls weakly, defiant. His eyes are stony, his resolve set. He knows he about to die and he is resolute in the face of my glare. I'm surprised he's got the willpower to resist me, weak as he is, but I knew that some people found a hidden wellspring of courage in the face of their own demise. "Ra... ma.. He'll be safe from you."
Rama? That... That was a name I hadn't heard in a long time. Curiosity peaked, I shoved aside his protesting hands as I rifled through his dogi top. I found a leather-bound journal, held shut with a wide rubber band. I pulled it off and flipped the book open to a random page, grabbing a photo as it began to slip out.
"Oh my," I whisper to the man below me. I see the terror in his eyes at the look of wonder on my face. I ignore his repeated, weakened cries. The boy in the picture has eyes like I haven't seen for five thousand years. I turn to my fallen enemy. "This boy! He's not been tainted by the evil which made you what you are, has he?"
"No, he's... He's just a boy... Don't hurt him," he begs weakly, and honesty rings forth in his words.
"I won't hurt him," I tell the man, the vampire underneath me. "But I will be taking him."
As he yells his defiance, I feel his strength is coming back in the force he uses to try to pry my foot off his chest. I've toyed with him for too long. His wounds must be healing by now. If I wait any longer, he'll probably become a credible threat to me again. I can't allow that to happen. I reach down, grab his head, and wrench it to the side.
His neck snaps with an obscene crackle as bones shatter. I cave in his head to be sure.
I shut the journal and slip it into a pocket, then concentrate. Perhaps a kilometer or two deeper in the woods, I can hear a young man complaining to himself about his father being late. It must be the boy the corpse under my feet spoke of.
I ghost quietly through the woods, my feet barely making a whisper amidst the noise. I stop my breathing, knowing I can go for nearly an hour without having to draw another. Something tells me that I should approach with caution, so I do. He is completely unaware of me as I walk into the small clearing where he crouches, gazing into the fire and roasting a weiner on a pointed stick.
Like the man with the journal, he's wearing a stained and worn white dogi. He's probably about nine or ten years old and his long black hair is, strangely enough, pulled into a tight pigtail which snakes down his neck to lay a few inches below the level of his shoulders. I go to set a hand on his right shoulder and he moves with the speed of a striking cobra.
His left hand clamps with surprising strength on mine, yanking it forward and twisting my palm up. His right hand immediately comes up to my elbow and he stands and braces his feet, then twists his body and throws me forward. I flip in midair and land across from him on the other side of the fire. Or rather, across from where he'd stood. The cheeky little boy was already leaping across the fire with a foot extended.
I catch the ankle of his leading foot and swung him out to my left, leaving him dangling and glaring up at me.
"You're not my pops!" He pouts, his Japanese rough and uncultured. His eyes, I note, are not like Rama's: I could almost swear that they are his. Suddenly I'm five thousand years into the past. "Hey, blondie! Who're you!"
"My name is Alisa Perne," I tell him, then release my grip on his ankle. He smoothly extends his arms, bending at the elbows before springing to his feet in an impressive display of athleticism I would have thought beyond a human child.
"Nice to meet ya. So, are you here to train me?" He demands, sizing me up with a casual arrogance I had to admit was more brazen than any child I'd ever met before.
"Pardon me?" I ask, raising one eyebrow.
"Are. You. Gonna. Train. Me?" The boy repeats, slowly emphasizing each word. He shakes his head and turns his back. "Man, figures pop would hire a natural blond. A freakishly strong natural blond."
I hate blond jokes. I lash out with a fist, not seeking to do any permanent harm but enough to let the boy know that I'm the one in charge here. With an insulted-sounding snort, he leans forward and allows the backhand to whiz by the back of his head by a hair. Interesting.
"C'mon, you were able to sneak up on me. I know you can do better than that," the boy points out, turning to face me. If he wants better, I'll give it to him. I spin and lash out with a foot, faster than my backhand and aimed towards his chest. He grins and bends backward at the waist, noting with interest the way the it harmlessly arcs through the air right in front of him. "Almost hit me that time, cheerleader-chan."
"This time for real, then," I inform him. A fist blazes in at full speed and crashed into the side of his face. Luckily for the boy I'd held back most of my strength, intending only on knocking him flat on his back and teaching him a bit of respect. I'm surprised to discover that it only staggers him back a step or two, though it also puts a wary respect into his eyes.
"Not bad," the boy admits, rubbing his cheek. "I'm Ranma Saotome. My old man want you to teach me a trick or two?"
It's a better excuse than anything else to study the young man. Whatever else, his father was somehow connected to Yaksha. That speed of his was no more natural than his fathers. The journal in my pocket feels especially prominent as I ponder the problem.
I'm not averse to killing. I've even killed children before, when I had to. It's not something I relish, however. Perhaps I can figure something out.
"Yes, Genma wants you to stay with me for a little while. He's got some business elsewhere," I finally tell Ranma. The boy nods, accepting the fact and gathering his pack without another word. I gather the other pack and lead the boy back to my home. In Kyoto I'm simply Alisa Perne, a foreign exchange student staying at a large home. My hosts are simply away for the time being... The actors I hired to cover for me only have to put in an appearance when I need them to visit the school administration.
I get Ranma settled in the spare bedroom, and promise I'll be right back. I tell him I've got an errand to run and that I'll be gone for nearly an hour.
I don't tell him that my errand is disposing of his father's corpse.
It doesn't take me long to read Genma Saotome's journal and realize my mistake. It is filled with notes about where he and his son had been and what training he'd put his heir through. It occasionally mentions a marriage promise with the Tendo family in Nerima, who Genma had been planning on visiting when Ranma turned sixteen.
It makes no mention of vampirism, nor Yaksha. Either it was genuine and I'd killed a regular human being or it was an elaborate fake intended to throw me off guard if the assassin failed. Something told me it was the former. Ranma displayed the same sort of heightened speed and strength his father had possessed, albeit on a much smaller scale and I had almost no doubts he was a regular human.
Children with the hunger of my kind usually displayed very poor impulse control. Poor Ralphe.
Nevertheless, I wanted to keep an eye on him. Just in case.
It would also give me time to think, to figure out what to do with the child I'd orphaned. The child with my Rama's eyes. I certainly couldn't just cut the poor child loose, not after making an orphan of him. Nor did I particularly want to: I'd heard of humans with the sort of physical abilities this boy and his father had displayed, but in the five thousand years I've been alive I've never seen it in person.
I'd discounted the stories as simple stories told by people about things that couldn't really exist. Kind of like the stories about vampires, because obviously they don't exist either. I want to curse myself for my stupidity when I think about just how little sense my dismissal made when put into my own unique context.
A worry for another day.
How to keep Ranma from suspecting, though? I can't just tell him I've killed his father and he's going to suspect that something is amiss when he doesn't show up within a few weeks.
I eye the journal where it lays open on my desk. It occurs to me that I have a lot of practice with forgery and a perfect example of Genma Saotome's handwriting. With a bit of work, I can even give him a phony paper trail in case anyone wishes to check on him as he wanders from place to place, leaving his young son in my care.
Then one day his letters will stop, the papertrail will end with a boat leaving a dock someplace and never coming back.
When he's older, I'll never have to look into my long-dead husband's eyes and see hatred. Ranma will never have to know.
Uh, so... This is a crossover with Christopher Pike's Last Vampire series. I picked it up the other day because I was a fan of Spooksville. I'm decidedly mixed on my opinion on it: I really like the character of Alisa, but at the same time some portions of the books rub me the wrong way.
I'll be doing my best to integrate Alisa Perne into the story so that you won't HAVE to be familiar with The Last Vampire to enjoy this, but I imagine there'll be a lot of little bonuses for those who have read them. I'm sure if you're interested, you can find the series somewhere.
Just to clarify, in case it's not obvious... No, Genma wasn't a vampire. The evil that created Alisa was Yaksha, while the evil that made Genma what he is was Happosai. The dialogue was purposefully vague to allow Alisa and Genma to make their own assumptions based on the incorrect context. And for Genma fans... Sorry.
Chapters will flit between Ranma and Alisa's point of view. I'm trying first-person present for the tone of this story, since I've never done it before and it's the way the books were written.