Riuko: How many times have I rewritten this series now? Three? Well, three for fanfictions. I've rewritten this story a lot more times than that. Okay. I made some adjustments to White Dove and White Cat in my head. Originally, Caress was almost like a female Train; she used a gun, she was an assassin for Chronos, she lost her family at an early age, she had a mentor (though hers was a lot nicer), and she went through a big change in her life. I realized that, in my obsession with Train, I tried too hard to create a character that others would find acceptable at his partner and gave her 'Mary-sue' like qualities. In this version I will attempt to make the mystery surrounding Caress' heritage more like what it is… a mystery. She also no longer uses a gun. One of the reasons I assigned her a gun was because I didn't have any idea what weapon hadn't been used in the anime and manga. Now I know one. It's somewhat outdated, much like Nizer's Tong Fa, but, in the hands of an expert, is lethal (not that Caress would use it to kill). Another thing I changed is that Caress is not only no longer a Chronos Number (she was in my first few versions that never made it out of a journal), but she was never an assassin, though she was trained in weaponry by Chronos. Her weapon is still made of orichalcum (as a gift from Sephiria, as Sephiria wishes to give Caress every chance possible of survival due to her promise to Caress' mentor), but it bears no number symbol. Also, befitting of her heritage, her weapon has been renamed 'Ciel', meaning 'Heaven' in French. I will attempt to update more often. I know there are a lot of people who like this. I apologize for the long hiatuses. Thanks for sticking with me through all these years. I don't own Black Cat!
My legs ached, my lungs burned, and my entire body felt like it was on fire, but I had to keep moving. If I stopped, even for a moment, my pursuers would gain ground on me that I had desperately scrambled to put there. I winced in pain as shrubs and trees cut at my torso and face as I ran by. A protruding root took advantage of my fatigue and took hold of my boot, nearly bringing me to the ground. I quickly shifted my balance and used my right hand to spring off the ground and land back on my feet. I took off as soon as possible, but I knew I had lost precious time. I sprinted forwards, ignoring my body's protests of fatigue and hunger. In my mad dash, I almost flung myself into a ravine. I was a hair's breadth away from the point of no return and I shifted my balance to my back so as not to fall. I looked to either side of me. No good. Trees and shrubs blocked my path. The only way for me to go was down. Inside of me, part of me began crying. I was tired, hungry, overwhelmed, and I just wanted to get away from my pursuers. My mental state was barely holding up, and the same could be said of my physical one. The loud crunch of fallen leaves made me spin around. Not three meters from me was exactly who I was trying to flee from. A group of masked, armor-clad warriors with guns stood behind an average sized man with metallic grey hair. His under-armor consisted of chain-mail that wrapped around his hands and arms like gloves. Wrapped around his left hand was a long chain that he swung lazily at his side. His eyes were a piercing grey like his hair, and his smirk spoke of a large ego and confidence that I was trapped. I hesitantly reached for the disk around my neck. The man raised his finger and gave me a 'tsk-tsk'.
"Now Caress, you should know by now that I can have you wrapped in my chains before you can ever get your precious weapon off your neck." He was right. By the time I could get my chakram off my neck and prepare to toss it, he'd already have had his weapon in hand and had the chance to use it as well. (A\N: Her chakram has a hinge on one side that allows an arc of the weapon to open, allowing her to place the weapon's blunt end around her neck and hide it in plain sight as a (very gaudy) necklace. It causes her no harm, but it is not wise to sleep with it on as the blade will ruin the bed and pillow.) I lowered my hand from my neck. I truly had no other way out of this than to go down the slope of the ravine behind me. Damn! "Return quietly with me and your punishment may be… minimal." I sneered at him, baring teeth. No way was I going to hand myself over. I took a step back, then another and another before pivoting on my toes and leaping down the slope. I managed to stay upright for part of the descent, which was better that I had planned, but a rock caught me off balance and sent me rolling down the slope. The fallen leaves did little to cushion the blows of rocks and roots to my torso. I realized it was only a matter of time before I hit a tree. I braced myself just before my side crashed into the trunk of a tree. The impact knocked what little breath I had from my lungs and I felt, as well as heard, a crack as a one of my ribs broke. Blood, saliva, and air leapt from my mouth as I cried out in pain and hit the ground. The pain in my side was unbearable. I could feel myself going into shock. Damn. My last coherent thought was 'I'm going to die here.'
From my position in the tree above the graveyard, I heard a soft cry of pain in the distance. The echoing nature of the forest, as well as my acute hearing, were the only things that allowed me to pick it up. I picked up my SAT phone and dialed my partner.
"We have a problem. I don't think our target is coming here," I stated.
"Wha-? What makes you say that?" He asked.
"I heard someone cry out in the forest behind me. It has to be him! He must've cornered someone on his way here! If we don't hurry, that person will-"
"I got it! What are you waiting for? You're the fastest of any of us, so hurry over there. I'll contact Eve and give her directions using the tracker in your phone."
"Got it! See you there partner." Then I hung up.
I was having a hard time finding the source of the cry. With the echoing in the trees it could've been from anywhere. Damn! If that person could just cry out again then-. The smell of blood suddenly filled my senses. It was strong, so the person was nearby. Alright! I had a trail! After making my way around several trees, a sharp yellow color caught my eyes. On the ground was a woman, about my age, nearly unconscious and suffering from shock. Numerous cuts and scrapes doted her torso and face while a pool of blood formed over her right ribcage, soaking through her shirt. The wounds looked more like cuts from thorns and branches rather that a knife, which was our target's MO. This girl had been running from something or someone else. I put my hand to her wrist just as I heard the crunching of dead leaves behind me, signaling the arrival of my partners.
"Holy-!" Sven yelled as he saw the girl on the ground. "Wh-What happened to her? That doesn't look like it was done by our guy." I shook my head.
"It's not. It looks like she was running from something… or someone. Her pulse is weak, but she's alive. The person after her can't have been too far behind if she was distracted enough to fall into a ravine," I replied.
"Sh-Should we take her to Fujimura?" Sven asked.
"I think that would be wise," stated the small blonde at his side.
"Alright. I'll carry her on my back. Help me get her up."
Two days later…
I awoke with a start, nearly leaping from my resting place, then crying out in pain as I clutched my rib. Dear God did my side burn!
"Careful. Your vitals just stabilized yesterday. We don't want you going into shock again." My head whipped around to face the speaker; before me sat a young blonde girl with choppy hair and black clothes that couldn't be older than fourteen.
"I didn't know they were training kids now. Hmph. Just goes to show that he isn't as kind as he lets on."
"I believe you are mistaken miss," the girl said in a monotone. "I am not one whom you should fear. I know not of this 'He' of whom you speak, but I assure you that you are safe from your pursuers so long as you remain here." The girl suddenly stood up. "I need to inform my partners that you are awake. Please remain here and lie back down. You have two broken ribs. You shouldn't move." I leered at her and reached for my neck, only to find my chakram gone! "Ah yes, your accessory was removed as it was causing pain to the one who carried you back. He complained all of yesterday about the gash it left it his shoulder." What? Any self-respecting member of that organization knew to be careful of that thing. This girl wasn't lying. She wasn't with them.
"Who… Who are you?"
"Introductions can be made after I bring in my partners. They have been quite worried and insisted that I retrieve them when you woke. I implore you to remain here." Without another word, the girl walked silently from the room. As if I had any intentions of remaining in one place. I clutched my ribs and prepared for the pain that was sure to come as I rose from the bed and placed my feet on the floor. I gritted my teeth so as not to cry out. My free hand stabilized me as I stood, allowing me a few moments to walk over to the window. Outside was a cobblestone street. In between the two lanes of road was an island of green and trees, but I saw no creatures; no squirrels scurrying to find food before the winter months, and no birds preparing to fly south. Not even chirping. This was not a good sign. As I went to open the window and make my escape, a cough turned my head.
"And where in hell do you think you're going with an injury like that," a man about my age asked while pointing at my bloodstained side. The man was tall, about a head taller than me, and had spiky chocolate-brown hair and piercing golden eyes. I could just imagine him with a cat's tail waving lazily back and forth. I glared at him.
"None of your business," I snapped, opening the window and putting a foot on the ledge.
"Hey! This is the second floor you know, you should be careful of leaping down from high places." The man shot me a knowing smirk. I hadn't even known him five minutes and I already hated him. "Besides, we have this." He bought his other hand from behind his back and spun my chakram around his index finger."
"G-Give that back!" I snapped, attempting to dash across the room and retrieve it, only to be impaired by my injury.
"No way! This thing gave me a pretty nasty wound when I was trying to be nice, so I'm not giving it back until that injury on my shoulder heals." He put a finger to his chin. "Speaking of which, that should be around the time you're actually supposed to be moving around."
"Why you little-!"
"While I agree that she isn't exactly handling this well, I would think that her rage is coming from your actions Train," the girl said to the man.
"No kidding. He's an expert at knowing what to say to piss even strangers off," and older man replied after letting a puff of smoke out of his mouth. "I apologize for my partner's behavior. My name is Sven Vollified and we are sweepers."
"Sweepers? So you aren't with that organization?" I asked.
"There's a lot of underground crime syndicates, but our only real association with any of them is putting them behind bars," Sven stated. "Which organization is it that's after you?"
"As I said before, it's none of your business," I grumbled. The man called Train looked at my weapon in his hand.
"This is made of orichalcum. You wouldn't by chance be a Chronos Number would you?" Suddenly, his gaze turned fierce, making the look he had before like harmless curiosity. I gulped before letting out a laugh that brought back the pain, forcing me to the ground. "You okay?"
"As if I would be a member of Chronos. They're a bunch of filthy liars who just want power." The man puzzled over this for a moment.
"That sounds about right," he stated. "But if you aren't from Chronos, where did you get this weapon?"
"I-It was a gift," I muttered.
"This kind of thing isn't given as a gift."
"It's none of your business alright? Just give it back and let me go! Having me here puts you in a lot of danger!"
"Miss," the older man began, "just what kind of trouble are you in?"
"Are you hearing me? By sheltering me, you could be killed!"
"Does it look like we care?" Train asked.
"Do you have a death wish?" I asked.
"Sometimes I wonder that myself," the teenage girl mumbled.
"Princess, that's not very nice," Train retorted with a playful grin. The girl gave him a sharp look and turned away. "By the way, if you hadn't already figured out, I'm Train Heartnet, and that's Eve Lunatique. She's been watching over you since we took you to the doctor."
"You did what? They can track a doctor then he'll get killed!"
"Don't worry so much," Train replied. "He was an underground doctor friend of ours. If we took you to a hospital, authorities would've gotten involved. I didn't feel like dealing with the police. Plus doctors make the Princess here nervous."
"Do not," Eve mumbled. Sven cleared his throat.
"To get back on topic, who's chasing you. You wouldn't have had all those injuries if you had just been going for a walk and taken a tumble, and you're obviously not a civilian who can't take care of themselves." I glared.
"Fine, you know what? You can keep my chakram. I'm out of here. The sooner I'm gone, the safer I am and the less trouble you're in." I stood up and headed towards the window, a feeling of dread in my chest. I didn't know what for until a chain broke through the window, wrapped around my neck, and dragged me through the remaining glass.
Riuko: Finally done! R&R!