(Author's Notes: This is an alternate universe, and very different from CLAMP's manga, with guns, smartphones, and high-school babysitter Ryuu.
As for warnings, there are a number of them. Make sure you read 'em, and if you don't like something specified here, please don't write me a nasty review just about that, because I'm giving you the heads-up right now. Oh, and this will go up to an M rating eventually.
There will be violence. People will lose their lives. There are three homosexual relationships (and Vahyu being stereotypical). There will be consensual, somewhat explicit sexual relations, both straight and homosexual, with a little bondage thrown in here and there. There will even be mention of rape and suicide. All that being said, a good percentage of this is meant to be humorous.
Adult language is a given (mostly thanks to Koumokuten), and there's copious use of alcohol and cigarettes (again, mostly thanks to Koumokuten). And finally, this will differ quite a bit from the manga; a couple of themes will be used here but it's a completely different world, both in the setting and some of the characters' relationships.
Needless to say, I don't own "Rg Veda". It belongs to CLAMP. They created a visually gorgeous story about destiny, sacrifice, and some really pretty people, and I've borrowed it without permission and turned it into a rather risqué AU where businesspeople and hitmen trade snarky barbs with teachers, bouncers, and a feminist rocker with a martial-arts instructor girlfriend.
I do feel rather bad about that, but it sure was fun to write. And please please please be kind enough to give me feedback, because it's how I improve.
So, enough of that. On to the fic!)
Chapter One: Go Back To Your Drinks
Tenkai City in the early spring of 2011 was much like any other Midwestern city. Citizens, some bad, some good, but the vast majority somewhere in between, heaved a relieved sigh that the evil forces of winter had been defeated by the united powers of the Earth's axis and the sun.
Many of them greeted the month of March with astonishment that yes, the snow was melting. It always had and it always would, but people were always somehow surprised by this. Most of the denizens of Tenkai City celebrated by wearing unseasonably light clothing and saying things like "Here comes summer!"
Yes, the population as a whole was very happy. Of course, there are always exceptions.
In a bar she only vaguely remembered the name of, one such deviation from the norm stared into her glass as if it could somehow tell her what to do now. Loud music thrummed behind her, making her head pound with the beat, and the sounds of boisterous patrons slammed into her ears.
Five years. Five years on the police force, five years of glowing reviews and commendations, and she'd thrown it all away. Karura Skye sipped her drink, resisting the urge to bawl. What had she always told the victims of violent crime? "Don't take matters into your own hands. Doing so will only make it harder to get justice." She hadn't taken her own advice, and now she was screwed.
She put her head down on the counter and started to cry. Behind her, someone broke into joyous song.
Zouchouten Southland, co-owner, manager, and occasional bartender and bouncer for the Four Gods bar, was not in a good mood. And someone was singing, damn it. He hated when they started singing.
The band had arrived late, their lead singer/guitarist was still fixing her hair, and his head of security had just quit in high dudgeon after being thrown up on one too many times. Add to that the fact that it was ladies' night and there were no less than ten tables of drunken college girls, and you had the makings of a killer stress headache –
"Z! Check out the chick at table six! Take it off, baby, yeah!"
And Koumokuten Oeste was not helping at all.
Zouchouten glanced over to the right, not surprised at what he saw. His business partner and best friend had one arm around a beautiful woman, and the other was holding a half-empty glass of tequila. "God, I fucking love ladies' night, Z!" Koumokuten shouted happily, hoisting his glass high. "Don't you?"
Zouchouten ignored him, stalking over to the bar. "I thought I told you to cut them off when they start singing," he said to (or rather, bellowed at) the woman pouring a generous shot of Jose Cuervo into a glass. "Hanranya, you know how annoying that is!"
She gazed at him calmly, tawny eyes glittering from beneath smoky lashes and her bangles jingling as she stowed the bottle. "I'm going on my break. Not my problem."
"Your break? Is Varuna here yet? He's your replacement, and you can't go on break without someone to replace you!" Zouchouten yelled over the pounding bass guitar.
Hanranya just shrugged. "Ask and the Goddess shall provide. You're here. Why don't you watch the bar?"
He snapped, "Absolutely not. Look, I have three things to do already. Your break can wait!"
"Need I remind you of state law, Zouchouten? It clearly states that I'm entitled to –"
"Fine. Fine!" He threw up his hands in frustration. "Go on your break. Make it fast."
"Thank you." Hanranya smiled serenely and moved out from behind the bar, then turned to look at him quizzically. "You're a Pisces, right?"
"I don't see what that has to do with this," he grumbled, and she replied seriously, "Well, the position of Saturn says big-time romantic dividends are on the horizon for Pisces."
"Right." Zouchouten rolled his eyes. "Just like the time the movements of Venus told you it was my lucky day and my car got broken into. Hanranya, forgive me if I don't believe in that mystic shi–"
"But you were lucky that day!" she protested, and he raised his eyebrows in disbelief. "How?"
"You were lucky because they didn't go for your CDs," Hanranya replied, like this was a gift from the universe.
"Only because they took my stereo." He sighed, giving up. "Just go take your break, okay?" She nodded regally, blending into the crowd, and he remembered vaguely that her fiancé was an up-and-coming lawyer. If that wasn't opposites attracting, he didn't know what was.
"Dude! Cuervo!" an exuberant young man said, waving his hand in the air. "That's mine!"
She can't even serve the drink she just made before she up and leaves, Zouchouten thought in complete exasperation, passing Cuervo guy his glass and mentally daring him to complain. Luckily for everyone, the multipierced patron just grinned and sipped his drink as Zouchouten sighed, his gaze running down the length of the bar.
It passed over the standard fare: frat boys, scantily-clad women, two executive types out of their suits and behaving worse than the frat boys, that moronic singing guy, a pale, out-of-place young woman who looked like she'd be a good candidate for a suicide watch poster –
He hesitated. He'd seen an awful lot of unhappy people in this line of work, but this one made the rest of them look like they were at a party. Everything about her screamed dejection, and by the way she was belting her liquor she was obviously trying to forget something. He might have let it be and served her another, but one look at the man next to her made up his mind.
Zouchouten was in favor of consenting adults doing whatever they damn well pleased, but he'd never felt right watching someone get taken advantage of. He'd seen it too many times, and what the hell, nobody needed anything right now anyway.
Through her alcoholic buzz, Karura noticed that the guy to her right had just inched closer. Then a deep voice penetrated the fog: "Leave the lady alone. She's in no condition to be fit company."
The guy immediately stopped his invasion of her personal space, and Karura looked up, wondering what had compelled him to do so. She blinked in confusion, because somehow the woman who'd served her had morphed into a man. A big man.
"You all right, ma'am?"
She shook her head slightly to clear it. What was in this drink? She could have sworn the bartender was a New Age-type lady, not a huge guy with shoulders as broad as a small car.
"A Volkswagen," she muttered, and the guy blinked himself.
"All right, that's it. No more screwdrivers for you." He reached out a hand in the manner of someone used to being obeyed, and she found herself passing him her glass and then sitting there, wondering what to do now.
"Take my advice…it's never that bad," he told her, before a very loud chorus of "Ninety-Nine Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" reached his ears and he sighed, his grip tightening rather dangerously on the glass. "Okay, maybe it is, but it'll pass. It has to."
He didn't sound completely convinced.
Karura just groaned. "Can I have my drink back?"
"Legally, if you bought it, it's yours." He made no move to return it to her, though, and she frowned. They locked gazes for a while, until she finally decided it wasn't worth it and dropped her head to the table.
Zouchouten studied her. "You're obviously running away from something. You don't seem the type to slam back hard liquor for kicks."
"I'm not, not that it matters now," she sighed into her arms. "It's not your problem, anyway."
"Of course it isn't, I just –"
"Hey! Linebacker guy! Another round of Heineken over here!"
Karura watched with a kind of fascination as the big bartender's jaw clenched and a vein throbbed in his forehead. "Fuck it," he muttered, slamming her drink down before her and turning towards the partying executives.
No sooner had she picked up her drink than three college boys surrounded her. "Aw, are ya runnin' away from somethin', babe?" one of them smirked.
"Go away," she said, clipped and annoyed.
"Ooh, only if you come with me, sexay," another laughed, slipping his arm in what he probably thought was a casual movement onto the back of her chair.
"I'm not going to warn you again," Karura said clearly, a cold tone in her voice that would have stopped smarter men right in their tracks. Indeed, the guys sitting next to her were starting to edge away, but the standing idiots paid it no heed.
"C'mon, don't be so frigid." A hand started to move towards a breast. "Want me to warm you up?"
The sound of breaking wood cracked in the air, and Zouchouten looked over just in time to see Karura send the second college guy into a second table with a controlled flip.
"You go, girl!" That was Kendappa, the band's lead singer, who had apparently fixed her hair to her specifications and was cheering on the pale woman, her set forgotten and her fist pumping as she screamed encouragement into her mic.
Why am I not surprised? Zouchouten had time to think before the third victim crashed into the new furniture he and Koumokuten had just bought. He glanced around. The other bartenders had taken cover, his bouncers were all otherwise engaged, and some patrons were fleeing and others were pressing in to watch the new entertainment.
He returned his attention to the one-woman wrecking crew. Of all days for his security head to quit… He sighed, loosening his neck. No sense in letting her go nuts.
He stepped out from behind the bar, and then the strangest thing happened: she looked around her, blinked, and collapsed onto her barstool with a wrenching sob. The room stilled, waiting for further action, but all she did was cry and cry like her heart was broken. The formerly singing guy was bold enough to extend a finger and poke her shoulder gingerly.
"All right, that's enough. Go back to your drinks. Now." The ominous command from the huge bartender was enough to break through Karura's misery, and she sniffed, raising her head slightly. There was a noise like a hundred people drawing breath in anticipation.
"I said NOW."
The entire room obeyed, nervous laughter swelling in the air as everyone suddenly decided the fun was over, and turned back to the conversations and various alcoholic beverages they'd been engrossed in earlier.
Zouchouten approached the crying woman with something like fascination. He hadn't seen anyone lay out three men that fast in a long time. The most unusual thing about it, he realized, was that she'd just crumbled instead of going into a berserker rampage and necessitating the use of tranquilizers. It was as if she'd stared into something primal and found it unable to help her.
He opened his mouth, fully intending to say something along the lines of "You owe me serious money for damages, Jackie Chan," but surprised himself by shutting it and pulling up a barstool next to her.
"That was impressive," he said conversationally. "Judo?"
"Karate," she hiccupped. "A lot of good it did me…I couldn't save my – my –"
She broke off into a wail, and he leaned back a bit. Loss was clearly written in her posture, and he could tell that this wasn't about some boyfriend who'd moved on to greener pastures.
"And I can't even really afford another drink so I can forget!" she bawled. " I got fired last week, and my Garuda needs peanuts, and –"
What the hell is a Garuda? Zouchouten wondered helplessly. Geez, lady, you are a mess. He sighed mentally. And I'm about to do something completely stupid because I feel really sorry for you.
"Have you ever considered security work?" There. He'd done his good deed for the day. Helping the downtrodden, or something like that.
She looked at him as though he'd grown an extra head. "Security work."
"Sure. I'm short on bouncers right now. You can hold your own, and you need a job. It could be mutually advantageous." He scribbled his contact info on a napkin and passed it to her, and she clutched it like it was a lifeline. It was almost painful to watch.
"Thank you," she croaked, staring at him like he'd just saved her and her entire family from a burning building. It embarrassed him, frankly.
"I'll be going now," she told him, managing to stand up. "Goodbye."
"Bye." He watched her weave her way through the crowd, and sighed out loud. Had that been a mistake, giving some random brawler the number to his office? Probably not, he decided, because he'd be surprised if she even remembered what had happened in the morning, much less submitted an application –
"Z, do we have another subwoofer? Gandarajah's backup one just blew."
"I'll be there as soon as I can, Koumokuten. Hanranya's not back from her break yet." And with that, Zouchouten turned his attention from the possibilities of tomorrow to the certainties of tonight.
A bespectacled Yasha Yama sat at his desk at Tenkai City Community College the next day, grading papers and trying not to beat his head on the wood. He'd assigned a perfectly reasonable essay question ("In The Color Purple, Celie endures the husband she was forced to marry and desires Shug Avery. Discuss the conflicting pressures of public opinion and desire and give examples to defend your position"), and no less than five of the girls had managed to use the purely hypothetical situation of a student and her attractive teacher. One had even slipped and used his name.
"Yama, Seiryuu Pendragon must be stopped."
At the sound of Kumaraten Hades' voice, Yasha looked up from the latest essay of inappropriate wish fulfillment with something akin to relief. The chemistry teacher stomped into the room, grabbed a chair, and straddled it after turning it around. "He's an absolute menace."
"What did he do now?" Yasha asked, remembering last week's lab fire clearly.
Kumaraten groaned. "He shook the vial that was labeled 'Do Not Agitate' in really big letters, apparently because he thought the warning was a joke. It reacted and disintegrated and the table started to dissolve." He sighed dismally. "His lab partner was in tears and had to go home to recuperate."
Yasha absentmindedly tossed the paper he was grading into the recycling as he asked, "Didn't his brother keep him in line?"
"No," Kumaraten lamented. "Hakuryuu was taking a makeup test in the next room." He gestured pointedly at the recycling bin. "Somehow I don't think you meant to do that."
Yasha groaned. "It's starting again, Kumaraten. It's getting absolutely dreadful."
"Have you been asked to the graduation dance again?" the aforementioned man questioned. "That happened the past three years, right?"
"No, not yet, thankfully. Maybe I still have karma from the time two former cheerleaders bitchslapped each other in the hallway over who could ask me last year," Yasha muttered gloomily.
Kumaraten smirked. "You're just lucky the president believes you when you say you hate student-teacher affairs."
"That's because I do! I despise them with a passion," Yasha muttered. He looked at Kumaraten accusingly. "Unlike some people I could name."
Kumaraten held up his hands defensively. "Look, Yama, I was Kahra's tutor. I was in college. She was a senior in high school, she was eighteen years old, and we waited until she went to college herself before things got adult. And I married her, for heaven's sake, and –"
"Yes yes, we all know the story of your proposal during your graduation speech and how her brother rushed the stage. Everyone's heard it so much we've got it memorized," Yasha warned in a low, annoyed grumble, picking up another essay.
He read the first two sentences, and his face darkened like a thundercloud. "Six. Six! Goddammit, this has to stop!"
Kumaraten watched this eruption in bemusement. "Maybe they like you because you have such long hair? Women love a man with long hair," he smirked, remembering how he'd grown his own out for his wife, who had a habit of running her fingers through it sensually.
"I don't know!I have a son, you'd think they'd back off –"
"Whoa, calm it down there, Yama. A lot of women absolutely love kids. For example, my wife –"
Yasha threw the entire pile of essays into the air at that. Leaving Kumaraten blinking as paper fell on his head and all around him, the Literature teacher grabbed his jacket, wrenched the door open, and hurtled down the hall. He was so fed up that he knocked the president down as he stormed out to his car, splashing through grime and very deep puddles.
Once fifteen minutes and a respectable number of miles had passed, he unclenched his hands one by one from the steering wheel. Envisioning them around a student's neck was really, he told himself firmly, not a nice thing to do.
He finally pulled up outside his house and took a few minutes to calm himself down. Ashura was probably home by now; his babysitter picked him up from first grade punctually on his way back from his own high school, and his adopted son was very good at divining Yasha's emotions.
He got out, shut the car door carefully, and walked up his sidewalk. Ryuu Nahga's beat-up old truck was also in front of his house, Yasha noticed, so Ashura was definitely there.
Yasha unlocked his front door, noticed with approval that Mozart was playing on the sound system, and stepped inside to see his son and his babysitter sprawled out in the living room with paper and art supplies.
Ryuu grinned up at Yasha from his place on the floor. "We were coloring," he told his charge's father happily.
"Yasha, Yasha, I drew this for you!" Ashura launched himself into his father's arms, waving a piece of paper excitedly. Yasha smiled and looked at it obediently. "My, Ashura, that's such a nice…uh…"
"It's a peacock," the six-year-old told him proudly. "It's purple because Ryuuy used all the blue and green."
"Kid, c'mon, you used those crayons too! And what's wrong with a violet peacock, anyway?" Ryuu protested. "Yasha, tell him that – Yasha?"
The man's face had gone still and sad, and it was downright disturbing. Ashura cocked his head. "…Yasha? Don't you like it?" he asked, sounding hurt.
At the sound of his son's voice, the teacher shook himself out of whatever reverie he'd been in. "Of course I like it, Ashura. I love purple peacocks. In fact," he hugged Ashura suddenly, "I'm going to frame this and put it on my desk at school."
Ryuu beamed, pleased with this example of encouraging parenting, and never suspected that Yasha might want the picture for another reason.
New York City's Central Park was a nice place, the sunglasses-clad man thought, with the wind blowing through his wavy hair and the first flowers peeking up through the last traces of melting snow. A group of teenage girls giggled and looked at him shyly, and his brilliant smile made them shriek and wave.
Man, I love being outside. That office is just too stuffy some days –
"I want to break free! I want…to…break…free –"
Freddy Mercury started singing in his coat pocket, and he pulled out his vibrating smartphone. The screen changed from its desktop background of a tall, stoic-looking man with his arm around the phone's owner to the cell phone display.
Smirking, he said (with exaggerated seriousness), "This is Playboy One. Go."
The voice on the other end sounded exasperated. "Ku, you can stop doing that now. The objective's over, drama queen."
Kujaku Valentine laughed. "Hey, being an international man of mystery's addicting, Twelve."
His boss sighed. "I told you, you can call me Bob. Seriously. Even my wife calls me Twelve sometimes."
Kujaku made a face at his phone, then put it back to his ear. "Fine, be that way, Bob. I still think there's a couple loose ends, though."
"Ku, this isn't Hollywood. There's always going to be at least one loose end. But fine, what is it?"
Kujaku turned serious. "The arms shipment. We never traced it. Personally, people who can ship enough hardware to practically arm a small town without anyone knowing who they are make me worried." He kicked at a pebble and smiled at a passing toddler. "I think it was Taishakuten's guys, personally."
There was a groan on the other end. "You think Taishakuten's behind every kidnapping and unsolved robbery in the entire country."
"I do not!" Kujaku protested indignantly. "He's not into that small stuff, anyway." He tossed a bill into a panhandler's hat absentmindedly. "We do have a good line on his new base, though: Tenkai City. Give me a couple weeks, and I can –"
"No, you won't. You have unused vacation time that you are required to take by law just piling up. That's why I called you."
"Aw, Twelve! No fair!" Kujaku whined. "And after I sent you that fruit basket, too."
"Especially after that. I know a bribe attempt when I see one. Look, one month. It'll do you good. Stop trying to fix the world for once and relax. You're good at relaxing on agency time, after all."
"Hey, I think better lying down in the dark, I really do!" Kujaku protested, then sighed. "Okay, Bob, I'll take a vacation. I'll see the sights, I'll go to bars, all that jazz." He grinned suddenly. "I have the perfect place in mind."
"Tenkai City," Kujaku informed his boss, then hung up before he could protest. He turned his phone off and laughed so hard that two old women feeding pigeons looked at him strangely.
In the Ninjitsu no Tsuki dojo, a fourth-degree black belt stood in the "at-ease" position.
She breathed deep, centering herself, then assumed the "ready" pose. Holding herself completely still, she cleared her mind of all distraction, which was easy because no one else was around.
I am one with the universe. I am one with all life.
She took one more breath, and then, with a quick "HA!" she shattered the training bricks with a single back ax-kick.
Souma Moon straightened up, bowed at the bricks because she bowed at any opponent when in uniform, and went to prepare for her next class. White-belted novices could be a challenge, but this particular class was dear to her heart, because it was a self-defense class for women.
Souma believed very strongly that all life should be respected, but she was also a very firm believer in the right to defend oneself and those one loved. In her mind, if someone made it clear they were going to seriously hurt you, it was much better to take them down before they could do so.
And she could take almost anyone down (and out), armed or not. She never bragged about it, it was just part of life, like the way Kendappa played guitar and loved music.
Souma stood still in the act of putting out training dummies, a goofy smile on her face. Now there was someone you did not want to mess with!
Souma had met her girlfriend at one of her self-defense classes three years ago. The musician had put her ridiculously long hair into a braid, tied her beginner's belt around her, and kicked the crap out of the unfortunate student who'd been showing her how to go for weak points.
Souma's jaw had dropped, the student had yelled "Great! Keep doing that!" and Kendappa had smiled and said cheerfully, "My mom was an aikido enthusiast."
Souma had made the decision then and there that she would train Kendappa one-on-one, because everyone else was scared of her. It had nothing to do, she had assured herself at the time, with the other woman's beautiful blue eyes or easy laugh.
And so they'd gone over patterns, and they'd sparred, and one day Kendappa had said to Souma, "When are you going to kiss me?" like it was the most natural thing in the world.
And it had been, it had been simple and easy and just plain wonderful. They'd ended up making love on the floor mats, which Souma had thought she really should have been ashamed of, going at each other after they'd met only four months ago.
But Kendappa didn't care, and Souma soon found that she didn't care, and if anybody else cared, that didn't matter because they had each other.
They spent an awful lot of time just hanging out at their condo, the martial artist playing with the musician's hair as Kendappa composed songs. She usually went for feminist rock anthems with names like "Go Fuck Yourself, Perv", but she'd been making a habit lately of penning romantic ballads because Souma liked them so much.
Souma went to see Kendappa play, was told emphatically not to punch men who hit on her after performances, and got to be a fairly good singer herself. Kendappa cheered Souma on at all competitions, proudly displayed all her girlfriend's trophies, and once beat up a biker who wouldn't leave another woman alone.
Life was good.
"Moon-sensei! I came early to practice my form, just like Jet Li!" one of the master's more enthusiastic new students chattered, having just come in from outside, her face earnest and excited.
"Well, you do have over an hour before class begins, but…" Souma smiled proudly, "let's see your front kick."
Yes, life was good indeed.
Karura's apartment was decent. A cop didn't make a huge amount of money, but she was very wise with what she had earned, and she'd managed to afford not only a good car (although she was still paying for it) but a residence in a safe neighborhood.
She actually could have made her place nicer, as she'd had the money to bring in pricier furniture and an expansive television, but Karura didn't spend a lot of time watching TV or sitting around. She usually spent time in her bedroom only to sleep, the kitchen was adequate for her needs, and up until two weeks ago, she'd been spending her days running around enforcing the law.
Her lips thinned at that thought. If she didn't get the job she'd applied for, she might have to –
"Karura! Karura!" It wasn't a human's voice calling her name.
The cockatoo she'd been snuggling before her mind went off to a dark future bobbed up and down, then butted her with his head to bring her attention back to him. She stroked him lovingly. "Sorry, Garuda. I was just thinking."
He turned his head to stare at her with one dark eye, then the other one. "Sorry. Sorry Garuda," he repeated. He was a talker, and she encouraged it because it gave him something to learn.
She of course made sure he was mentally stimulated with an ever-changing mountain of bird-safe toys, non-toxic things to chew on, and tons of affection, but he loved to imitate sounds and she was always proud of him when he pronounced a new word. He was starting to string three together now, which she rewarded with praise and a healthy treat.
At age ten, Karura had been given a young, not-yet-fledged Garuda by her father. Watched carefully and encouraged by both parents, she'd played with him, trained him, and fallen so much in love with the gentle white bird that she'd brought him to college with her. She wondered sometimes how she'd ever lived without her feathered friend; they were so bonded it was like an inspiring, kid-safe movie.
She glanced at the clock. "I'm sorry, Garuda, but I have to put you back now. Mommy has to go out."
Garuda made sad little noises as she placed him back in his spacious cage, then perked up when she handed him a new toy. As the cockatoo happily destroyed the woven palm fronds, his human picked up her wallet, her keys, and a napkin she'd kept close like some sort of good-luck charm.
"Go out?" Garuda questioned, and Karura turned back to him. "I'll be back soon, sweetie. I have an interview with," she glanced at the wrinkled napkin, "Z. Southland." She smiled then. "The bartender with Volkswagen shoulders."
Clutching her talisman, Karura Skye walked off for the interview that would set the rest of her life in motion.
(AN: Kujaku's last name is actually inspired by the English dub of the anime "Yugioh", of all crazy things: a character whose surname name was "Kujaku" now has the surname "Valentine". It was all I could think of.
This multi-chaptered story is finished. I've come to realize that all chaptered fanfics should be written and posted like this, because this way I could reread and edit it. So, each week or so, I'll post a new chapter. There may be some very slight tweaking I do as a result of feedback, but really, how it is now is how it'll be. Just to warn you, there are a total of twenty-seven chapters, and this thing is novel-length. I do think it's somewhat good, if I do say so myself.
By the end, almost every "Rg Veda" character who has a name will show up in some form or another, either mentioned by someone else or for a brief in-person cameo. I think the only one who doesn't pop in is the Old One, Kumaraten's loyal…retainer, or whatever he was.
I should warn you that it's pretty Karura-centric, especially in the first few chapters. So if you were hoping for Crime Lord Taishakuten banging Secret Agent Lord Ashura in multiple ways in multiple chapters, you'll be quite disappointed indeed. Sorry.
Still, Kujaku gets a lot of screentime (pagetime?), yay. Breaks up the monotony of the bar scenes, and gives us a different perspective.)