That young man, in his ice gray robes and cold demeanor; it was as if he were the very calm of a frozen storm. No, as if he were the front that was oncoming and waiting to unleash a fury that had already peaked upon the horizon. When Kasumi had seen him, she could sense that his business was with... him. What the boy wanted with Ranma, she had no inkling or notion, but she knew one thing. Where he was the storm waiting on the horizon, Ranma was catalyst that generated its fury. When she saw him again, she had to find out what he knew about the decidedly dangerous pigtailed young man.
In the meantime, she had other means...
"Kasumi... Kasumi! Earth to Sis..."
:"Oh," Kasumi apologised, putting on the best smile she could muster for her youngest sibling, "I'm afraid my mind was elsewhere."
Akane chuckled, "I can see that, but you've been like this the whole time." The raven haired girl shifted the groceries she was carrying for more comfort, "Something wrong? You usually don't even carry this much in groceries home, you have them delivered."
"Well," Kasumi began, feeling somewhat unsure of herself, "I wanted to talk to you... about a few things."
"Well, I have been trying to talk to you, but you've had your head in the clouds."
"I'm sorry, Akane," the elder sister apologised, "I wanted to ask you about Ranma..."
Akane blinked, "Sis, I honestly didn't think you would actually be interested in him." Her surprised expression turned to a knowing smirk, "Tired of waiting for Doctor Tofu to come around?"
"Wha-what about Doctor Tofu?" Kasumi enquired, confused by the sudden change in topic.
Akane sighed, wistfully knowing that teasing her sister on the subject was futile, and over what her sister had that she would never gain, "Nothing, Kasumi. Now, what about Ranma?"
"You seem to be good friends with him," the elder sister began, "You must know him well enough."
Akane nodded, not quite sure where this was leading to, "I guess, he seems to really... well, he's patient, concerned, and he seems to understand me on things..." Akane's face scrunched up in thought, "It's not like I'm interested in being his fiancée, but I... I like being around him. He's a great guy."
"So he hasn't, well, I'm not sure how to ask this..."
Akane gave Kasumi her full attention, noticing the worried expression on her eldest sister's face, "Go on..."
Kasumi sighed, knowing that from the way Akane was acting, Ranma had never harmed her, "Nothing. It's nothing. I just feel... so uncomfortable around him, as if there's something about him..."
"I know what you mean," Akane admitted, "He does seem intense sometimes. And how he will pretend to be dumber than he really is around others, I still don't get that. I mean, all other boys are stupid, yet he wants to be like them?" Akane chuckled, "I guess boys will always be a mystery to me."
Kasumi was back in her own thoughts, considering how Ranma indeed feigned a greater naivety than he actually had. She could tell he was remarkably intelligent, almost eerily so... actually she was more than a little frightened about it. If he was indeed that smart, exactly what were his intentions?
"I do suppose he has his reasons," Kasumi finally stated after several moments of silence, as they walked home, "It's just that he..." her voice quieted a bit, "...he scares me a little."
"Kasumi? Why would you be afraid of-" Akane paused, as she looked ahead, "Hey, isn't that the Kensou's son?"
Kasumi turned to where Akane was pointing, and found a toddler, no older than two, staggering down the sidewalk. From the looks of his progress, he wasn't in the best of conditions.
"Oh my," Kasumi whispered, as she quickly set her groceries down, and ran towards the young boy that not more than a year ago she would baby sit while his parents indulged in what little personal freedom they could, "Yoshi-chan, are you-"
Her concerned address was interrupted, as soon as her hand met with the young boy's flesh. Just as his loud shrill erupted from his throat, the vile and potent stench of feline urine and defecation met her senses. She almost reeled from both the nearly deafening cry, and the wrenched smell, but her maternal instincts remained dominant in trying to calm the boy down.
Yoshi's panicked cries she could tell were coming from a throat that had already screamed itself raw, yet the sheer terror that she saw in the boy's eyes persuaded it that it could continue for even longer. Without more thought, Kasumi latched onto the boy, embracing him in a tight hug that screamed of her protective nature, whispering words of comfort that the little boy couldn't comprehend in his state. It was a situation eerily familiar to Kasumi; it was like she was embracing her hysterical sister.
"My God, what's wrong with him?" Akane asked, showing no little fear herself.
"Something must have frightened him badly," Kasumi stated, "go look over there where he came from, I'll try to find him help!"
"I'll go call the police, " one of the gathering crowd suggested, before running into her house nearby. Kasumi didn't give acknowledgement to hearing the woman, but continued to hold the poor child until help she knew was coming arrived.
Akane strolled around the corner, finding nothing unusual, right before a slight breeze caught across her face. She almost gagged at the putrid smell that lingered in the air, but hesitatingly moved to investigate it. After several yards, she was forced to cover her face with arm in a vain attempt to drown some of the obnoxious stench with her own perfumed scent.
That cellar, that's where it was coming from. Akane stepped through the broken fence that belonged to the run down house that had been due for renovation for some time, and approached the cellar door. Bracing herself, she shifted it open, and fell back as dozens of cats, and a fresh wave of cat stench slammed against her, and right by her.
"Ugh, gross!" Akane sat up, wondering what all those cats were doing down in the cellar, with the door shut no less. Holding her breath, she looked in, and gasped at the sight of dead or dying cats; half starved and feral, looking up at her with pleading eyes, or with dull, lifeless ones.
Unable to bear the sight any longer, Akane slammed the cellar door closed.
Kasumi sat inside the police officer's car, trembling at what had been discovered. The boy had only been missing since last night, unlike the other children who had apparently suffered his fate. Other than the smell and being terrorized, the boy had not been harmed in the least, yet the lack of any physical ailments didn't hide what had happened to him. The cellar Akane found, the boy had been in it, along with multitudes of starving, desperate cats. As feral as they had become, its a surprise that no harm had come to Yoshi at all. The cats were wild enough to even consider him as a potential food source, yet he had not a single scratch on him.
The officer on the scene came back, and sat himself down into the driver's side, "Don't worry, the boy will be fine with his parents now." They both knew that wasn't true, but he felt he had to say something.
"Who did this to him?" Kasumi demanded in a shaky tone.
The officer sighed, "I wish I knew, so we could prevent this from happening again. I mean, it's the fifth time this has happened, and we're no closer to catching the scumbag who did this. Between this and the Surgical killer, things have been pretty bad around these parts."
"Yes, things have been terrible as of late," Kasumi admitted, "I... I need to return home."
The officer nodded, "Thank you for your help, Ma'am. We'll contact you if we need anything else." Kasumi nodded, and got out of the car.
Akane had already left, getting some assistance from some friends to carry the groceries home, so Kasumi only had herself to worry about. Before she left the scene, she saw him again; the Chinese boy in the gray robes.
Once again, he noticed her attention on him, and began to turn away. He walked, in no hurry, yet obviously uninterested in conversation. Much to his misfortune, Kasumi was indeed interested, "Wait!"
At the call, the young man paused, but did not turn back as Kasumi caught up with him, "You live at the Tendou Dojo."
"And you've been spying on us," Kasumi countered," What is it you want with Ranma?"
The young man still hadn't turned around, "It's best you don't know."
"You know about him, don't you?" Kasumi stated, not willing to let the boy go until she got what she wanted from him.
The young man turned his ice cold eyes towards her. "Apparently, as do you," he said in a factual voice. He fully turned to face Kasumi, "He is dangerous, and we have to keep close observance over him."
"So he is dangerous?"
The young man paused for the longest time, "It would be best if you didn't agitate him. With that, he started to walk away.
"Then we should kick him out of our house! Right?" Kasumi enquired, hoping he would confirm her suspects.
"That would be far from a good idea."
"Then if he's so dangerous, why haven't you tried to get rid of him yet?"
The young man looked back to the waning crowd, "We are not prepared to deal with him yet. When the time comes, and no moment sooner, we will eliminate him."
"Kill him?" Kasumi asked in shocked awe.
The boy nodded, "Good day, Ms. Tendou. It would be best if Ranma never found out about this conversation..