"You never learn, do you?" InuYasha grumbled as he looked down at Miroku. An expression of supreme disgust on his face.
"I suppose it’s all my fault," Kaname commented, holding up her hands helplessly. "And here I thought even you might know better than to feel up a hotheaded wolf-demon."
"Can’t you two show…just a bit of sympathy?" Miroku wondered as he lay before them. "I am wounded…as you well know."
"Sure," Jiro responded insincerely. "About as much sympathy as I can show for someone who jumps into a fire on a whim and thinks he won’t get burned!"
While Miroku groaned morosely, InuYasha couldn’t help but smirk at the monk. It had been a short time since the dog-demon had been forced to retrieve Miroku after Azusa had somehow managed to run him down. Fortunately for the lecherous monk, the she-wolf had still not fully recovered from the injuries she had sustained, and was still weak from the loss of blood. So while Azusa’s fury was great, she had lacked the strength to do much more than severely maim Miroku for his transgressions upon her.
"You got off pretty lucky, if you ask me!" Shippo piped up, poking at an arm that had been dislocated before the town chiropractor had seen to it. Just one of many injuries inflicted by the she-wolf, leaving the monk bandaged and battered in his bed. "At least you’re still alive! When I saw Azusa screaming through town, I thought a tornado was hitting the place!"
"In truth, so did I," Miroku confessed wearily. "She is…rather energetic."
While several scornful eyes were rolling at the monk’s antics, the lady of the house entered the gently colored room. "Here you go," Tamoa spoke, kneeling to set down a tray laden with pork cutlets and tea. "It’s not much, but I felt it better not to jar your stomach while you’re recovering."
"Why, thank you," Miroku beamed, grunting as he sat up on his futon. His manner that of a perfect gentlemen.
"Don’t even think about it, Miroku," InuYasha growled menacingly.
Flinching at this extremely unsubtle warning, Miroku than gave the half-demon a wounded look. "InuYasha, please! I would never…!"
"Yeah, yeah!" InuYasha grumbled as he started away with the others following close behind.
"Here we go again!" Shippo stated, folding his hands behind his head.
"We’ve heard that before!" Kaname declared with Jiro shaking his head in assent.
Leaving behind their resident philanderer, InuYasha and the others returned to the dining room, where Sango, Michiru, Azusa, and Koga were still having dinner, alongside Shunsuke and Kaito. "Done checking up on the pathetic scrap of a human?!" the redheaded she-wolf growled.
"Yeah, we did," InuYasha growled. "And just so you know, no, you still can’t eat him."
"Hmph! Why would I ever want to eat a filthy pervert like him?!" Azusa demanded incredulously. "He’s so diseased I’d probably die of food poisoning!"
"So he’s okay?" Sango wondered.
"Well, Azusa did give a good accounting of herself, but I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t recover," Jiro stated.
"Grr!" Azusa sneered. "If I just had my full strength, I’d leave that disgusting lecher in so many pieces, you’d never be able to find them all!"
Sighing as she eyed the impulsive she-wolf, Sango then returned her attention to her dinner. "Well, as long as he’s alright," she said, pinching a bit of pork between her chopsticks. Then she turned her attention to Michiru. "So…I guess you’re going to be busy tomorrow, huh? Working on that machine?"
"Well, yeah," Michiru nodded smilingly. "You know, if we’re really lucky, I might actually be able to get that thing working again."
"Seriously?" Kaname broke in, raising an eyebrow at her brother. "Don’t you think that’s asking a lot, bro? I mean, you’re not any expert on…well…"
"I know, sis, but seriously! There’s no damage to it at all, and from what I can tell, there’s hardly any dirt in its systems," Michiru assured her. "I know it seems crazy, but I really don’t see any reason why it won’t fly."
"Are you referring to that strange thing you found?" Shunsuke asked from his place at the table. He gave a disapproving shake of his head. "I know this is none of my concern, but I can’t help but feel there is something evil about that metal monster. When I looked at it, I swore that I thought it was some manner of dragon or demonic bird of prey."
"Well, it is a machine used for war," Michiru explained. "But it’s completely harmless without someone to pilot it. To guide it."
"That may be, but whatever land that thing came from, it is not a land I would care to venture to," Kaito commented, the old man frowning warily.
His brow furrowed unhappily, Koga asked, "Say, Michiru…just how dangerous would something like that be, anyway? How much damage can that machine cause?"
"Hmm?" Michiru started, taken aback by this question. Giving the question some thought, he finally shrugged. "Well, I’m not sure. Like Kaname said, I’m no expert on military jets, and this one looks pretty advanced. But I’d have to say that, if it’s fully functional and with a full load of weapons, it could probably cause a lot of chaos. Why?"
"Huh?" Koga got out. Then he averted his gaze. "Oh…no reason."
"Hey, why are you being so wishy-washy?!" Azusa wondered. "What, did you lose what little spine you had left?"
"Watch it, you stupid bitch! Or do you want me to yank out your spine?!" Koga snarled, leaping to his feet and staring down at the she-wolf with barely constrained rage.
Looking at her fellow wolf-demon, Azusa allowed the corner of her lip to curl up. "Well, that’s more like it!" she decided before returning to her meal. "Now, if only we could get rid of your softness for wimpy humans…"
While was Koga was returning to his seated position, his lips tightening with renewed gloom as he eyed Azusa distastefully. Even as the others silently agreed to let that one pass without challenge and returned to their business. "Well, why don’t you guys finish eating," InuYasha said, a serious expression on his face. "I’ve got some things to do right now."
"Do you need any help, InuYasha?" Michiru asked, while Kaname looked at him intently.
"No, I’ll be fine," InuYasha told them. "I’ll be back in a little bit. I…just have something I want to take care of, that’s all."
"Okay, but if you need any help…" Sango spoke, concern in her deep eyes.
The corner of his lip curling up, InuYasha eyed the Demon Slayer. "Relax. It’s nothing big. I’ll be back before you know it." And with that, the half-demon left. Smiling even more as he noticed Sango placing her hand upon Michiru’s beneath the table through the corner of his eye.
A short time later, InuYasha was standing on the outskirts of the village, feeling the wind tossing his hair about, he couldn’t help but smile. It’s about time Michiru and Sango finally got together! he thought to himself, recalling how he and Kaname had seen the two of them nestled together beneath the tree. It’s so obvious that they’re totally in love with each other. And after all the crap Miroku has pulled on Sango, it’s about time she wised up and ditched him!
Though InuYasha didn’t hate Miroku, he had absolutely no use for the monk’s hypocrisy or womanizing ways. Making matters worse was that it had always been plain as day that he couldn’t or wouldn’t give Sango the happiness she deserved. And while InuYasha hadn’t always gotten on well with the Demon Slayer, he had always respected Sango’s warrior prowess, even from the day they had first met and battled.
Hell, who knows? InuYasha thought as he geared himself up for the task ahead. If things had been a bit different, I might have gone after Sango myself. Then his eyes narrowed. Yeah, and then Kagome would have buried me with a dozen ‘sits’!
"Hey, InuYasha!" piped up a familiar voice. Jerking at the sound, the half-demon grumbled as he watched Shippo bound towards him.
"And just what are you doing here?!" InuYasha demanded, glaring at the uninvited guest. "I thought I made it clear that I wanted to be alone!"
"Well, I was just curious, that’s all," Shippo spoke defensively. Then he eyed the sword that InuYasha was holding. "Hey! Is that the sword you found on the jet? The Reikikaega?"
Snorting, InuYasha looked at the blade in his hand. "Yeah, this is it."
"It sure looks different!" Shippo noted, marveling at the changes. "So it can transform like the Tetsusaiga? It’s so pretty now!"
"Yeah, well, pretty doesn’t do me a lot of good in a battle!" InuYasha countered. Still, he had to admit that he privately agreed with the fox-demon. In its transformed state, Reikikaega was somewhat longer than the traditional katana it normally resembled, but it also gave the impression of being made of quartz. Strange, glowing lines ran up and down the blade in bizarre patterns, and blue lightning coursed about it. The sword possessed an extremely fine edge, and it tapered into a needle-like point at the top.
"So…what exactly are you doing out here, anyway?" Shippo wondered.
Growling beneath his breath, InuYasha answered, "Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m trying to figure out exactly what this sword does." Narrowing his eyes thoughtfully, the half-demon turned the sword about in his hand.
Frowning intently, Shippo asked, "Well, why don’t you just fire it off and find out?"
"Without any idea what this thing can do?! What are you, stupid?!" InuYasha demanded, his voice carrying enough force to knock the fox-demon off his feet. "There’s no telling what will happen when I try this thing!"
"What?" Shippo squawked in disbelief. "You mean you haven’t even tried it out yet?!"
"No, I haven’t! This is the first time I’ve even had a chance to really try and figure it out, okay?!" InuYasha bellowed.
"Waah!" Shippo yelped. Then an annoyed look appeared on his face. "Sheesh, InuYasha! I was just asking!"
"Yeah, I know! It’s just…" InuYasha grumbled, looking hard at the sword.
Frowning, Shippo just looked at the half-demon for a time. "Just what?" he asked. "C’mon, InuYasha! What is it?!"
"I just want to be careful, that’s all!" InuYasha told the little fox. When Shippo gave a noise of confusion, the half-demon narrowed his eyes studiously. "We have no idea where this sword came from or what it can, Shippo," he explained, his demeanor unusually wary. "And you remember what happened the last time we ran into a weird sword."
A few moments passed before Shippo made the connection. "You mean…the Sounga?" Shippo gathered warily, recalling the dread Sword of Hell. Gulping loudly, he asked, "So, what? You think that the Reikikaega is like that?"
"No, I don’t think so. It doesn’t feel anything like the Sounga did," InuYasha responded. "It’s just that I don’t want to risk trying to use this thing in battle before I know exactly what it does."
"Makes sense," Shippo admitted with a confused frown. "But why are you in such a rush? If you’re so worried, why don’t you just wait for Totosai to show and ask him?"
Growing his exasperation, InuYasha shot a death glare at Shippo. "And what happens if he shows up and he can’t figure it out, either?!" Then he shorted before returning his attention to the sword. "Besides, in case you haven’t noticed, things have been getting a lot more dangerous lately! I’m betting it won’t be long before Naraku makes his next move, and I want to be ready for him!"
"Okay, okay! Sheesh!" Shippo grumbled, crossing his arms as he looked. "Then why don’t you just try the dumb sword already?!"
"Well, I was about to do that, but then a certain someone came along and stuck his nose in where it wasn’t wanted!!" InuYasha growled, staring daggers at the someone in question. "Now, either you get lost or just sit there quietly while I try this thing out!"
"Oh! Okay!" Shippo returned, bounding away a short distance before taking a seat on a rock. Smiling eagerly, he leaned forward in anticipation. "Ready when you are, InuYasha!"
"Right!" InuYasha nodded. Taking the Reikikaega in both hands, the half-demon turned to face a good-sized boulder. Steeling himself with several deep breaths, InuYasha growled forcefully. "Here goes! Reikikaega!"
The sword crackling with even greater power, InuYasha slashed at the air, disgorging ripples of energy towards the rock. The blue energy slammed into the boulder, sending it flying out of the earth. The large stone then tumbled about a short time before it landed, where it rolled about for a time before stopping.
"Wow! That’s not too bad!" Shippo enthused.
was significantly less pleased. "Yeah, but that’s nothing compared to the Wind Scar!"
the half-demon complained, wrinkling his nose as he held up the sword. "Damn! And I thought I really had something here!"
"Hey, give the sword a chance!" Shippo advised. "It took you forever to get the hang of the Tetsusaiga, remember? Maybe this sword has other powers, and you just haven’t figured them out, yet!"
Frowning, InuYasha privately admitted that the fox-demon had a point. At one time, he had thought that all the Tetsusaiga could do was slash apart opponents with its blade. But in the months that had followed his acquisition of the heirloom sword left him by his father, he had not only learned of the Wind Scar, but also the Backlash Wave and the Tetsusaiga’s ability to gain greater power by sucking the blood of certain powerful demons.
"Well…I guess I should try testing it," InuYasha decided. "Hey, Shippo! Throw a blast of foxfire at me!"
"Huh?" Shippo responded.
"Relax! I want see more of what this thing can do," InuYasha explained, holding forth the sword. "So just do it!"
"Well, okay," Shippo replied, getting to his feet. A plume of greenish fire appeared in his hand. "Here goes! Foxfire!"
As Shippo threw the small bolt of flame, InuYasha held up the Reikikaega. When the foxfire came close, the blue lightning of the blade reached out and snared the puff of flame, and drew it into the crystalline structure of the sword. The blade held a slight green tint for a moment, and then returned to normal.
"Hey! It ate my foxfire!" Shippo cried out in protest.
"Alright! Now we’re getting somewhere!" InuYasha grinned, holding up the sword so that he could look at it more closely. "If this thing absorbs demonic power, maybe it can cancel out Naraku’s miasma!"
"That sure would be a big help," Shippo agreed. "So what now?"
"Now I need to find out just how much power this thing can handle," InuYasha returned, shifting the Reikikaega to his left hand. "If this thing can eat up a Wind Scar, then we’ll really have something here!"
Drawing the Tetsusaiga, InuYasha knelt to set down the other sword, only to have his face fall in shock. The winds of the Tetsusaiga began swirling about its blade, even as the Reikikaega’s own power began snatching at the massive sword, with the half-breed wielding them caught square in the middle.
"InuYasha!" Shippo cried out in alarm, watching helplessly as his friend cried out in pain, struggling to hold onto to the swords, only to be increasingly battered by the lightning storm that had appeared between them. His screams only became more tormented until finally the display of power peaked, catapulting InuYasha backwards, both swords flying from his hands.
Landing squarely on his back, InuYasha groaned in pain as he tried to sit back up. "Arrrgh! Dammit!" the half-demon growled dazedly. "What the hell just happened?!"
"I dunno, but wow! That sword likes to eat even more than you do!" Shippo declared, bounding over to InuYasha’s side. "It looked like it was trying to swallow the Tetsusaiga whole!"
"Yeah, well, fat lot of good it does me if I can’t even hold onto the Tetsusaiga while I’m using that damned thing!!" InuYasha snarled, holding up his hands.
"Are you alright?" Shippo wondered nervously. "I mean, look at your hands!"
"Eh, this is nothing!" InuYasha declared. Dismissing the minor burns to his hands as he got to his feet, the dog-demon grunted as he retrieved the Tetsusaiga. Sheathing the heirloom blade, he then looked about, scowling as he surveyed the landscape. "Hey! Where’d that other sword go?!"
"Huh?" Shippo returned before swinging his head left and right. "I dunno! I – hey! Over there!"
Following Shippo’s finger as he pointed, InuYasha frowned even more when saw the still-sparking sword sticking out the side of a tree. "Hmph. I think I’m done experimenting with you tonight," InuYasha growled as he advanced on the sword. "Time to put you to bed before you cause any more trouble!"
Yanking the sword out of the tree and quickly sheathing it, InuYasha couldn’t help but grumble beneath his breath. I was so sure I had something really special on my hands! InuYasha growled inwardly. Then he narrowed his eyes in thought. Then again…Sesshomaru thinks the Tenseiga is useless, and it can even bring the dead back to life! Maybe…I dunno. Maybe there’s still more to this sword…
"So what now?" Shippo wondered eagerly.
Sighing wearily, InuYasha looked up at the night sky. "Now we head back," he decided. "We don’t want to worry the others, and we’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow." Then he cast one final look at the Reikikaega. "Besides, the last thing I’m in the mood for is any more trouble from this damn sword!"
"That’s funny. I was just thinking of how much that sword is like you!" Shippo commented in that smart mouth manner of his.
"And just what’s that supposed to mean?!" InuYasha demanded with a raised eyebrow.
"Isn’t it obvious?" Shippo asked. "You both like to eat a lot, you never cooperate with anyone unless you have to, and both your barks are a lot worse than your bites!"
His expression twisting with sudden rage, several veins popped out of his forehead as InuYasha snarled, "Why, you…!"
InuYasha then spent the better part of an hour chasing down Shippo so as to give him his just desserts.
"Hmmm…a most ill wind blows this night," Myoga commented, observing the clouds as they passed overhead.
His response was Kirara chirping her agreement.
"So, you sense it, too," Myoga noted, darting a glance at the two-tail. The only illumination they had were the stars above, and the lingering remnants of the fire they had both enjoyed.
Making a low sound of thought in his throat, Myoga observed the skies above, considering where they were. "Hmm, if all goes well, we should be able to reach Totosai’s home within the next day or so," the old flea finally said. Then he frowned more intently, thinking of the odd feel the air had. "I just hope that nothing happens while I’m away."
Kirara chirped her agreement, while Myoga continued to look up at the sky. "Oh, it's times such as these that I wish Master InuYasha weren’t so impetuous!" the old flea declared. "Honestly! He’ll just take off at a moment’s notice the instant trouble rears its head, without so much as a thought to the potential consequences!" His mind already casting back to many such incidents, Myoga just shook his head. "He gets it from his father, of course, amongst other things. But the scares he keep giving me…I’m not a young flea anymore! I just can’t handle such shocks all the time!"
Once again, the demon cat chirped, with a tone of sadness to her voice. "Ah, of course," Myoga spoke, bowing his head towards Kirara. "You’ve also lost many a valiant friend and companion over the years. I’m certain that you fear for Sango’s life as well, having seen so much death."
Kirara didn’t respond to this. She simply lowered her head, closing her eyes as if in memory. As if she were seeing all the good people that she had lost over the many years of her life.
"Oh, the things we must endure for those we serve, willingly though we do so," Myoga muttered. Then an especially strong gust of wind kicked up. "I just hope nothing bad happens before we get back."
Privately thinking that he also hoped that nothing bad would happen, period, Myoga continued to sit back and relax. Only to have his eyes widen in shock. "Huh?! What is that…?!"
As Kirara lifted her head up, the two of them watched as something flitted through the sky above. Something that was too distant to really make out, and yet there was a strange feeling at its passing. A wrongness that was not quantifiable, yet impossible to refute, all the same.
"Oh, master…" Myoga got out, a sense of dread falling squarely upon him. "I can only hope for your safety…"
When the sun rose above Tsuzumi Village, InuYasha and the others were quick to get moving. They enjoyed a hearty breakfast, making light conversation as they did so. The only ones with limited appetite for either food or conversation were Miroku, and Koga.
Watching as Miroku made various pained noises throughout the meal, Sango frowned slightly. "So…it looks like you’re still hurting, huh?"
"Oh, it’s nothing much, Sango," Miroku replied, mustering all the charm he could. "But thank you for your concern, nonetheless."
"It didn’t seem like nothing when I was beating you within an inch of your worthless life, you pervert!" Azusa smirked, eyeing the monk distastefully. "Of course, it’s not like there’s anything stopping me from finishing the job. Maybe you should just crawl off to your deathbed and spare us both a great deal of trouble."
Grimacing as he looked hard at the rude she-wolf, InuYasha groaned wearily. "It’s way too early in the morning for this…"
"You’re not kidding…" Shippo muttered, several lumps still adorning his head. Souvenirs from the previous night.
"Still, if you’re still hurting so much, then you should probably just take it easy," Sango decided firmly. "After all, we’re just going to be doing some digging, and Michiru and Kaname will be doing most of the work on the jet. And while we’re out, we could get you some additional medicine."
Smiling broadly, Miroku gave the Demon Slayer his smoothest smile. "Why, thank you so much, Sango," the monk said. "And in truth, I would appreciate the rest."
"Yeah, that’s a good idea, monk," Azusa sneered. "An even better one would be for you to go jump off a cliff and put yourself out of my misery!" The she-wolf then returned her attention to her food, ignoring the annoyed expressions of the people around her.
"Anyway, we better get going," InuYasha decided. "We’ve still got a lot of work to do before that thing’s out of its hole! And the sooner we can find out where it came from, the better!"
"Right. Let’s get to it!" Kaname seconded.
As the rest of them got going, Miroku gave them a thoughtful look. "I do wish I could do something to help all of you," the monk admitted.
"Don’t worry about that," Sango chided him. "Just go to bed, and try and stay out of trouble today. Alright?"
"Of course," Miroku responded. Then his lips curled in that manner that suggested trouble. "But…perhaps if I were to have some help getting back to bed…"
"I’ll help you, Miroku," Michiru cut in quickly.
"Of course, you all have a great deal to do today, and I shouldn’t delay you," Miroku concluded, a spark of defeat in his eyes as he rose from his place at the table.
Once the monk was out of sight, Michiru and Sango looked at each other, and the two of them quietly laughed. Making sure that their mirth didn’t reach Miroku’s ears.
After breakfast was done with, it didn’t take long for the remainder of the group to make their way to where the partly buried jet remained, and began to work. While the majority of them worked to shovel away the dirt that still held the warplane captive, Michiru used the power of his Earth Shikigami to clear away the dirt and detritus that cluttered up the jet’s inner workings.
Once the jet was fully exposed, InuYasha, Koga, and Azusa employed their superior physical strength to lift it from the hole, aided by Kaname and her Metal Shikigami. This was then followed by them carefully going over every inch of the jet, looking for signs of damage or any dirt that might have gotten into some delicate piece of machinery. As well as a great many questions regarding the ship.
"Wow! Those sure are some really big arrows!" Shippo commented as he stared at the jet’s wings. "But…how does it fire them without a bow?"
Laughing at the little fox, Kaname said, "Those aren’t really arrows. They’re missiles. They don’t need a bow to fire."
"These wings really don’t look wide enough for it to fly," Sango admitted at one point. "And how can it possibly flap them?"
"That’s just it. The wings don’t flap," Michiru explained. "Sure, they provide lift, but a jet like this relies mostly on its speed to keep it up in the air."
"And what’s with these big holes towards the back?" Azusa wondered. "And how does this stupid metal bird eat without a mouth?!"
Before anyone was stuck trying to field an answer to those two questions, Koga asked, "Do you really think you can get this thing working again?"
"Well, I hope so," Michiru answered as he came over to the jet and started looking inside the cockpit. Unable to help himself, he grinned in delight, running his hands over the interior of the craft.
Noting his hesitation, Sango came up to him, a smile quirking her lips. "What is it?"
"Oh, it’s nothing," Michiru returned. Then he looked over his shoulder at her, and found that he couldn’t restrain himself. "It’s just…I remember seeing jets and airplanes like this at an air show once, back when I was still little."
"Hey, I remember that!" Kaname breathed enthusiastically. "You couldn’t stop talking about that for days! You just kept going on and on about it at school!"
"I know," Michiru spoke bashfully, a blush coloring his cheeks. "I couldn’t help myself. Just sitting there, watching all the planes flying about, doing those stunts and maneuvers. It really was amazing." Growing even more embarrassed, the Kururugi boy shrugged at his love. "It might seem silly, but…back then, I wanted more than anything to fly one of those jets."
Nodding understandingly, Sango said, "And now you’ve got one of your very own to play with."
"Uh, well…" Michiru got out, blushing even more. A condition that was worsened when he noticed InuYasha and Kaname grinning at him.
"Well, come on! Hurry it up!" InuYasha told him, clearly enjoying himself. "I didn’t spend all of this time digging just to sit around and watch you do nothing!"
"Yeah, come on, bro!" Kaname seconded.
"Well…okay!" Michiru finally responded. With a boyish grin, he hopped into the jet’s cockpit, and placed his hands on the controls. Unable to stop himself from reveling in the moment.
After several seconds had passed, however, Michiru returned to himself. "Okay, everyone! Here goes!" And with that, he went about summoning his Thunder Shikigami, the glowing wolf appearing above him. The electric spirit howled before shooting down into the jet, its presence causing the engine to spring to life.
"Wow! It’s really working!" Kaname gaped as the turbines spun up. They sputtered once, then twice, clouds of remaining dust spitting out the exhaust, but then finally began to run cleanly.
"Hmph! So it makes noise! Big deal!" Azusa sneered.
"Hey, Michiru! You sure you know how to work that thing?" InuYasha demanded.
"I…think so!" Michiru gulped, taking the control yoke in hand. "My Thunder Shikigami…I can feel everything it senses, but…"
"But what?" Sango asked.
"Well, to be honest…I’ve never done this before!" Michiru confessed, somewhat worried as he examined the various controls. "It’s really weird…my Shikigami has linked me to the jet, and…it’s almost like it’s a part of me, and..." Finally, Michiru held up his hands helplessly. "Like I said, it’s weird."
"So what now?" Shippo asked. "Have you found out where that thing came from yet?"
"I…I’m trying to find that out, Shippo, but…I’m not sure where to look," Michiru admitted, looking somewhat embarrassed. "Just give me a few minutes to get a better feel for how this thing works, okay? Remember, whoever built this thing didn’t want it to be easy to figure out in case the wrong people got hold of it."
"Do you need any help with it?" Kaname wondered as her brother allowed the engines to once again go silent.
Giving his sister a sheepish look, Michiru answered, "I’m alright for now, Kaname." Then he looked down at the various controls and readouts. "I just need a little while to figure it out, that’s all."
"Okay," Kaname returned. Then she gave her brother an impish smile. "But if you need any help, don’t be afraid to ask for it!"
Nodding, Michiru looked at the rest of the group. "Why don’t you all take it easy? This is probably going to take a little while."
"Works for me," Jiro decided. Then he looked over towards Sango. "Say, if you won’t be needing me right now, would it be alright if I got some practice in? I haven’t a chance for any training today." Then he gave a wry smile, and tilter his head in the direction of the jet. "Besides, to be totally honest, that…machine makes me nervous."
"Wimp," Azusa sniped.
"Sure, go ahead," Sango nodded. "We’ll be sure to let you know if we need anything."
Getting to his feet, Jiro bowed politely. "Thank you," was all he said before taking his three-sectioned staff in hand and departing.
Watching as the Demon Slayer walked away, Azusa got to her feet. "Hmph. I don’t see why I should have to stick around, either. That stupid thing is such a waste of time!" With that, the she-wolf turned on her heel and left, her nose stuck into the air. No one even tried to stop her.
The rest of the group sat there, waiting as Michiru struggled to decipher the jet’s secrets, passing the time with small talk. The only exception to this was Koga, who kept darting looks at the military machine. "It’s strange," he finally muttered, shaking his head at the jet.
"Huh?" Kaname started, cocking her head in confusion. "What is?"
"That thing," Koga muttered. "It’s animate, but it’s not alive and has no magical power to make it go. It’s perfectly still, and yet I can almost see how fast it can move. And…"
"And what?" Shippo wondered.
"I dunno, but something about it makes my fur stand on end," the wolf-demon finally confessed. "I don’t expect you to understand. But…"
"I can’t say I blame you," Sango admitted. "I mean…I can’t pretend to understand how something like that can even function, but it’s still something we have to deal with."
"Yeah, I know," Koga finally grumbled. Then he looked up at the jet again. "Still…"
"Feh. Would you stop moaning already?" InuYasha grumbled. "I’m really not in the mood for all your sniveling, you scrawny wolf!"
Snorting lightly, Koga gave the half-demon a weary glance. "Mutt, do us both a favor and shut it up," the wolf-demon muttered, the crystals lining his body sparking somewhat at his irritation.
"Why are you even bothering with all that prancing about?" Azusa wondered. The redheaded she-wolf was leaning back against a tree, her arms folded behind her head while the subject of her attention performed various motions. His three-sectioned staff a blur in his hands as he bounded about in the small clearing. "It’s not like it’ll ever make you anywhere near as strong as I am."
Rolling his eyes at the she-wolf’s comment, Jiro continued his routine. Never once losing his momentum, the Demon Slayer retorted, "Maybe, but that doesn’t mean I can just slack off. It’s part of a Demon Slayer’s duty to be ready for anything that might happen."
"Good luck with that," Azusa sneered. Then she narrowed her eyes at the boy. "Seriously! I bet you wouldn’t be much without all your fancy weapons and gimmicks!"
"I wouldn’t be so quick to judge if I were you," Jiro replied good-naturedly as he bounded about. "One of the first lessons you learn as a Demon Slayer is that underestimating an opponent is a big mistake. And one you might not live to repeat." Coming off one particular swing, he then stopped to smile at Azusa. "Besides, the last time I looked, your people use weapons just like we do."
Stung by this comment, Azusa stuck her nose up in the air. "Yeah, but we’re not totally dependent on them! Not like humans are!"
"Is that so, huh?" Jiro returned, arching an eyebrow. "Then maybe it’s time you learned something about not underestimating your opponents!"
"Huh?" Azusa got out, only to have her jaw fall as Jiro allowed his staff to fall to the ground. "Hey! What are you doing?!"
"Giving you a lesson," Jiro told her, folding his arms across his chest. "Alright, wolf-demon. Come and get me."
Staring at the Demon Slayer like he had lost his mind, Azusa then snorted before shutting her eyes. "Hmph! Don’t waste my time! I’d take you apart before you even knew what happened!"
"You think so, huh?" Jiro grinned. "Like you tried to do last time?"
"Hey! That doesn’t count!" Azusa growled as her eyes shot open. "I was still all shot up!"
"And by a bunch of humans, as I remember," Jiro pointed out. "Just a few merchants, and they nearly killed you." When Azusa growled beneath her breath in response, the Demon Slayer added, "I guess you must be a real slow learner. Any good Demon Slayer would have learned not to underestimate a potential enemy after something like that."
Her lips twisting into a snarl, Azusa stared hard at the boy. "If you don’t shut up right now…!"
"No, Azusa. It’s time you learned a lesson or two about respect," Jiro told her. "Now, come at me. Unless you’re afraid of being beaten by a human. Again."
This was the last blow to Azusa’s pride. With a brutal snarl, she leapt to her feet. "Say your prayers, ‘cause you’re dead!!" she roared, charging Jiro as she moved to strike him with her claws.
With one easy movement, the Demon Slayer grabbed hold of Azusa’s wrist and pulled. He then placed his free hand upon the wolf-demon’s body and hefted her overhead, sending her flying through the air. With a squawk of surprise, she flew right into a tree with a tremendous crash.
Groaning in pain, Azusa fell to her hands and knees. Shaking her head free of the stars and comets that now littered it, she then looked up to see Jiro smiling at her. "So…have you learned your lesson yet?"
Even greater fury flooding her veins, Azusa screamed bloody murder as she shot at the Demon Slayer once again. Only to have Jiro neatly sidestep her, leaving his foot placed in just the right spot for Azusa to trip on it. The she-wolf was sent tumbling into the ground, and wound up with her face filled with grass and dirt.
"So, have you had enough yet?" Jiro asked mildly. His quiet, peaceful tone just the thing to send the she-wolf right into a blinding rage.
"Damn you…!" Azusa growled. Before she even knew what was happening, she was screaming straight at Jiro, her entire focus on his throat and the blood flowing through it.
Once again, the Demon Slayer dodged her crude charge. Taking hold of Azusa’s wrist and twisting it behind her, Jiro then wrapped his free arm about her neck, choking off the flow of air. While the she-wolf gasped at the turnaround, the Demon Slayer moved his lips so that he could speak into her ear. "You’re right about one thing, Azusa. You are very strong. A lot stronger than I am. But you’re also a hothead, and your temper ruins any advantage your strength might give you!"
"Oh, really?!" Azusa snarled, baring her fangs in defiance. "Well, let’s see how well you say that when I – ow!" Wincing as Jiro twisted her wrist even further, the she-wolf struggled to break his grip, only to discover that what the Demon Slayer lacked in strength, he made up for in leverage.
"That’s another thing you learn as a Demon Slayer; where to apply pressure to make sure that your opponent can’t get the upper hand," Jiro stated, smiling grimly as he furthered his demonstration in his captive. While Azusa growled impotently, the boy just shook his head. "Maybe you should try thinking about that for a while. Before you rush blindly into a fight."
Stretching out his foot, Jiro gave the she-wolf a shove, sending her stumbling forward. Growling as she spun her arms about, Azusa quickly recovered her balance and turned to face her adversary. Only to have her efforts rewarded by a quick smack to her face by Jiro’s three-sectioned staff.
Watching in satisfaction as the she-wolf went flying into several bushes, Jiro told her, "Still, you were right. Weapons do come in handy a lot."
"Grrr! And as soon as I get outta here, you’re gonna need…!" Azusa snarled, only to have her hateful voice trail off into a confused whimper. "Huh? Aaauugh!!"
"Azusa?" Jiro wondered, only to step back as the she-wolf came flying out of the bushes, a look of horror on her face.
"Get it away from me!!" Azusa howled, jumping several steps backwards. Her eyes wide and focused on whatever lay beyond them.
"What? What is it?!" Jiro demanded. When Azusa didn’t respond, save for her panting, the Demon Slayer frowned and moved towards the bushes. As he peered over them, his own face twisted with disgust.
"What in the…?" Jiro finally groaned, unable to conceal his own horror.
"A dead demon?" Sango repeated, staring blankly at her fellow Slayer and Azusa.
"That’s right, but…I’ve never seen anything like it," Jiro admitted, still shaken by what he had found. "It looked like a large dog or wolf, but…it was all shriveled up. Its hair was all…matted together. More like scales than fur, and there was some kind of greenish liquid leaking out of its mouth."
"It didn’t even have any eyes! And it was as hard as stone!" Azusa added, her revulsion clear. Her eyes shifting one way then the other as she rubbed her shoulders, the she-wolf couldn’t shake off her own fears. "How the hell could something like that happen, anyway?! What could kill a demon, and leave it like that?!"
Pursing her lips together, Sango seemed to consider the matter. "I’m not sure," she finally admitted. Then she looked at her fellow Slayer. "Jiro, could you show me where you found it?"
"Sure thing," Jiro returned.
Nodding, Sango turned to the others there. "Listen, I’m gonna go check things out," she told them. "The rest of you can stay here, if you want."
"Why don’t I come with you?" InuYasha said, getting to his feet. "It’s not like I’ve got anything better to do than sit around here."
"Alright," Sango nodded. Then she gave the half-demon a concerned look. "Let’s just do this quickly. I want to be done and back to the village before sunset."
His lips tightening, InuYasha snorted unhappily. "Fine. Then we better get going."
"Would you like me to come, too?" Michiru asked almost hopefully, still perched within the jet.
"No, we’ll be fine," Sango told him. "Let’s just meet up at the house later, okay?"
"Well…okay. If you’re sure," Michiru reluctantly answered.
"I’m sure," Sango told him. Then an impish smile curled her lips. "Besides, you still have to figure out how this thing got here, right?"
"Well, yeah…" Michiru admitted. "I mean, I’ve managed to get better control over it, but…"
"Then I guess you’ll just have to keep trying," Sango told him encouragingly. "Don’t worry, though. I’m sure you’ll get it. And then you can tell me what you found over dinner."
"Huh?" Michiru started, only to have his heart try and jump out his throat when he saw the smile on Sango’s face. His cheeks coloring, the boy gasped, then nodded brightly. "Sure thing! I’ll have this thing figured out before sundown!"
"Good. I can’t wait to hear about it," Sango told him earnestly. Then she turned to InuYasha. "We better get going."
"Right," InuYasha agreed, and the two of them set off together.
As soon as the two of them were out of sight, Kaname came up to the side of the jet. "Sango’s gone, bro. You can stop blushing now!" Turning to look at his sister, Michiru only blushed more before he tried to bury his face in the various controls. Laughing brightly at this, Kaname looked even more closely. "But seriously, you really think you’ve got this thing figured out?"
"Well, mostly," Michiru confessed with as shrug. "I mean, I know pretty much how to work the various systems, and I’ve managed to access the flight recorder. The real problem now is translating the data in it into map coordinates. Until I can do that, that data is useless."
"I really do wish you’d let me help," Kaname told her sibling. "I know not as experienced as you, but…"
"I know," Michiru replied. "But this is really sensitive stuff. Besides, I’m almost there. I just need a little more time, that’s all."
"Okay. Just let us know when you’re done, okay?" Kaname told him. When Michiru nodded his understanding, the girl joined the others in waiting.
Almost an hour passed, an hour in which the group passed the time in their own ways. Kaname and Shippo spent a good deal of time playing together, while Azusa made a point of ignoring them. Koga fidgeted and fussed, this level of patience not being his specialty.
Finally, after what felt like forever, Michiru’s voice was heard. "I’ve got it!" the boy cried out, standing up in the cockpit and waving his arm. "I’ve got the flight records for this thing!"
"Whoa! Really!" Shippo jumped.
Nodding enthusiastically, Michiru answered, "Right! Come here, I’ll show you!" The four of them were quick to stand, though Koga was the first to arrive and Azusa the last. When the redhead finally sauntered up in a devil-may-care manner, Michiru indicated a computer display within the cockpit. Visible on the screen was a map of the Japanese coast, as well as much ocean. A line extended out from Japan, far into the ocean.
"See this?" Michiru started, pointing at the end of the line that was in the midst of the ocean. "This is where the jet started out from, and here’s where it ended up. Right here."
"Then that means that, whatever happened to send this thing to this world, it must have happened somewhere along this line, right?" Koga gathered, scrutinizing the record.
"Looks like it," Kaname agreed. "But that still doesn’t show us where it happened!"
"I know, and from what I can tell, there’s not a lot of land between here and the coastline," Michiru explained. "So whatever sent this thing here, it probably happened out in the ocean."
"But what?" Shippo asked. "And why would whoever was flying it just leave it here?! And what happened to him or her, anyway?!" Then the little fox frowned deeply. "For that matter, how could this thing have come from the ocean, anyway?! It doesn’t look like it can float!"
"Oh, that’s easy," Michiru smiled, relaxing in the face of a simple question. "This thing must’ve been launched from an island or..." Then he paused and looked at the two wolf-demons present. Two people that were as of yet completely unaware of the power of the Bone-Eater's Well. Of the existence of time travel.
"Or something like that, anyway," Michiru concluded, hoping he didn't sound too fake. "Anyway, I just need to make a few copies of this map." Pulling out several of his cards, the Kururugi boy summoned his Wood Shikigami. With a flash of green light, the magical snake shot into the cards, inscribing each of them with a copy of the map on the screen. "There! Now even if anything happens to the jet, we’ll still have these."
"Works for me," Koga said. Then he narrowed his eyes as he scrutinized the boy. "So…I guess this means that you really have full control over this thing?"
"Yeah, pretty much," Michiru returned, a somewhat boastful look on his face. "My Thunder Shikigami is wired into every system, and I’ve got almost all of them under total control."
His frown deepening, Koga said, "You told us before that this machine can fly. Can you make it do that?"
"What?" Michiru got out. His brow furrowed, he considered the matter before answering. "Uh, yeah. I don’t see why not."
With an expression as unyielding as stone, Koga looked deep into Michiru’s eyes. "Then show me," he told the Shikigami User. "Show me what this machine can do."
"What?!" Shippo gaped as Azusa stared in disbelief at her fellow wolf-demon.
"Please, Michiru. I want to see for myself what that thing is capable of," Koga asked, his voice flat and without emotion. "I want to know…what the future holds."
What the...the future holds? Michiru thought, a wave of confusion descending on his mind. What’s he mean by that? As he tried to figure out what the wolf-demon meant, the Shikigami User looked into Koga’s face, and saw something he was not expecting to see.
Beneath all the pride and strength Koga carried about him, Michiru saw uncertainty. Desperation. And fear.
For a time, Michiru just looked at the wolf-demon leader, stunned by the need in his face, and found himself unable to deny him. "Alright, Koga. I’ll try," he said. When the wolf-demon nodded, Michiru looked at the others. "But you should get back a ways. I may have access to the jet’s systems, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able to get it right the first time!"
"Okay," Koga acknowledged as he looked at the others. "Well, you heard him! Let’s give some room to work with!"
"Hmph! Whatever!" Azusa sneered. "The stupid piece of junk probably won’t even get off the ground!"
This declaration didn’t stop Azusa from taking a few steps back, however. Something in which she was followed by Shippo and Koga, even as Kaname scampered to a safe distance as well. "Ready when you are, bro!"
"Alright, sis!" Michiru returned, focusing his thoughts on the Thunder Shikigami that still held possession over the jet. His heart pounding with boyish excitement, the kind felt upon learning that he was about to play with a really big toy. "Here goes!"
With a mental command to his Thunder Shikigami, Michiru once again caused the mighty turbines of the jet to spin to life. The engines running much more cleanly than before, the Shikigami directed the thrust down to the ground. Good thing this is a VTOL jet! he thought as the craft began to move unsteadily, the engine sound growing in intensity. I don’t even want to think about what would happen if I tried to take off the regular way!
Despite his concerns, despite the fact that the jet was shifting drunkenly as it struggled to rise up, Michiru couldn’t stop his heart from pounding with excitement. The very idea that it was his power making it move, his mind guiding this machine was plastering a grin all over his face. Childhood dreams that had not quite been forgotten coming to the fore.
"Watch out!" Shippo cried out.
Gasping as the little fox’s voice snapped him out of his daydream, Michiru realized that his lapse in concentration had resulted in the jet tilting closer to his friends. His face reflecting his shock as he saw the others backing further away, Michiru gritted his teeth with renewed concentration. Reaching out with his mind even as he took firmer hold of the control yoke, the Shikigami User was able to halt the jet’s progress. This did not stop it from wallowing in mid-air, but at least he had kept it from putting the others in danger.
"Hey, watch it, you stupid little human!!" Azusa snarled, shaking her fist in the air. "What, are you trying to get me killed?!"
"Sorry about that!" Michiru apologized, humiliation spreading across his face. "This really isn’t as easy as it looks!"
Growling indignantly, Azusa turned her wrathful gaze at her fellow wolf. "Well, Lapdog Koga, you’ve seen it fly! Are you satisfied?!"
"Not yet," Koga muttered. Then his face hardened. "Michiru! Do you think you can use that thing’s arrows?"
"What?!" Michiru gaped. It took several seconds for him to process the wolf-demon’s request. "You mean…you want me to fire one of the missiles?!"
"I don’t care what they’re called! Just shoot one of the damn things!" Koga demanded more forcefully.
"What, are you crazy?!" Kaname cried. Looking at the wolf-demon like he had lost his mind, the girl ran up to him. "Koga, you have no idea what you’re asking! If the missiles on that thing are still working, then they’re extremely dangerous!"
"If that’s true, then I have to know. I have to see it!" Koga growled in return. Matching Kaname’s gaze with his own, the wolf-demon then looked back at the jet hovering just a short distance away. "I have to see what this thing can do. With my own eyes!"
"But why?!" Azusa shrilled disbelievingly.
"Because I have to!!" Koga roared, the very force of his voice and gaze stunning Azusa. Then he turned back to look at the death machine. "Please, Michiru! Show it to me! Show me the future!!"
His mouth hanging open, Michiru stared at the alpha wolf for the longest time. He...he sounds like...could he know that...? he thought worriedly as he recalled the events that took place after the battle with Kagura. Of how Koga had mentioned sending his Jewel Shards to a different time. Oh, no...does this mean that...?!
"Michiru!" Koga shouted, his powerful voice snapping the Shikigami User back to the real world.
"Uh, right!" Michiru sputtered out, too shaken to think as he fumbled with the controls. His fears and concerns forced to the backburner, he focused on the others and told them, "All of you, you better get back!"
"You can’t be serious!" Kaname got out. "Michiru, you’re really gonna -!" Unable to finish this thought, Kaname looked about wildly, searching for reason amongst the others. Only to discover they were as frozen as she was.
"I’m gonna take this thing higher up. I don’t know exactly what will happen when I launch, but I want to be ready for it!" Michiru told them.
"Got it!" Koga replied. "Okay, let’s get some distance!"
"Huh?!" Azusa gaped, watching helplessly as Koga distanced himself from their position. Completely floored, the she-wolf turned to Kaname. "Is it just me, or have they completely lost it?!"
"I…don’t think it’s just you," Kaname admitted. Then she frowned in thought. "But lost it or not, my bro’s getting ready to fire one of those missiles! So I think we better do as Koga says!"
If anything, Azusa looked even more flustered. "Oh, come on!" the she-wolf got out. "Just how bad could it be, anyway?! Those big, metal arrows don’t even have any tips!"
"Trust me, they don’t need them!" Kaname assured her. "Let’s get going! You, too, Shippo!"
"Uh, yeah!" the little fox replied, and three of them followed after Koga.
Koga knows. He knows that we're from the future! That this jet...it came from a different time! Michiru thought frantically as he guided the jet, his mind on automatic pilot. Circuits and wires carrying the power of his Shikigami, linking his own body to the electrical system of the fighting machine. But why does he...why is he acting like this! It’s almost as if…he’s afraid of something! But what?!
Unable to piece it together, caught between the shock of realization that someone else had learned one of their most carefully guarded secrets and the desperate, almost haunted look in Koga’s eyes, Michiru angled the jet, targeting the loose mud and stone that still obscured the path below. Let’s see…safeties are off, the boy thought, the information being displayed before his eyes. Now all I need is something to blow up!
Frowning intently, Michiru began scanning the area for potential targets. I don’t want to shoot at anything nearby. The last thing I want is to draw attention to us and this jet, the boy reasoned. But I don’t want to hit anything where I might kill somebody, either! So what do I shoot?
As Michiru scanned the area, he then gasped as he spotted something off in the distance. The remains of a sizeable manor, nestled amongst the woods, about half a day’s walk away from Tsuzumi Village. "No way! Is that…Princess Oboro’s place?!"
Memories quickly came rolling to the fore, of Michiru first journey with InuYasha and the others. How they had fallen into the trap of the demonic Princess Oboro, and had nearly become meals for her many demons. In the final battle with the vile demon, the entire manor had been destroyed, and a vile miasma of demonic power had flooded the ruined building, rendering it too toxic for any mortal being to survive.
"Perfect! I know I sure wouldn’t mind watching that place go up in flames!" Michiru declared, grinning enthusiastically, his shock and fear and frustration anger finding a sudden outlet. Giving the mental command, he targeted the defiled ruin. "Target locked on…and fire!"
Down below, Koga and the others watched as the gripping claw of the jet released its hold of one of the missiles, fire spitting out of the back of the weapon as it flew away. They watched as the missile shot across the woods, lancing down upon a distant location. And they watched as a pillar of fire and destruction erupted from the site of impact, filling the air with flame and thunder.
Even though Kaname had some clue as to the power such a weapon held, she was still stunned by the sight. Azusa and Shippo were completely unprepared, and could only stand slack-jawed, unable to believe what they had just seen.
As for Koga, he stood like a statue, watching as smoke swirled into the air, the roar of the explosion clear even in the distance. And watched the destruction with the intensity of someone observing a funeral pyre.
A distance away, other eyes were watching in awe.
"Impossible…" Kagura gasped, her eyes wide with horror at what she had seen. At this harbinger of the future that carried no magic, yet wielded such power.
Did this thing truly come from the world that Utsugi’s descendants and the girl came from?! the wind witch thought. What kind of mad world could spawn such an obscenity?!
Continuing to watch as the jet came back down to the earth, Kagura, manipulator of the wind and possessor of the dead, trembled in awe. Even as another voice was heard, laughing in her ear…
"I don’t believe this! What were you idiots thinking?!" InuYasha howled, his ire filling Kaito’s living room, along with the majority of the group. As Michiru winced at the half-demon’s accusatory voice, Kaname and Shippo recoiled as well.
"Hey, who are you calling an idiot, mutt-face?!" Koga shot back.
"Gee, who does it look like, idiot?!" InuYasha shot back, leaning in towards the wolf-demon. Then he stared hard at Michiru. "And what were you doing, letting yourself get suckered into firing that damn thing off?!"
"I…I’m sorry," Michiru fumbled out, looking very much like a little boy who had gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "I just…he kept asking me, and…"
"Still, it wasn’t a very good idea, firing that strange arrow," Sango told him in a somewhat reproachful manner. "The whole village saw that explosion! If anyone finds out that that machine caused it…"
"I know, Sango, but…" Michiru tried, only to falter once more.
"Hey, don’t be so hard on the kid. I’m the one who asked him, remember?" Koga broke in. "If you have to blame anyone, blame me!"
Pursing her lips, Sango gazed curiously at the wolf-demon. "But…why did you want him to do that?"
Now it was Koga’s turn to look shamed. The wolf-demon averted his eyes, his features hardening. "I…I have my reasons. That’s all."
"Oh, sure. That just clears everything up!" InuYasha snarled.
"Hey! I don’t expect you to understand, mutt-face!" Koga growled, bringing up his fist and leaning closer towards InuYasha. Then his own concerns took over as he looked away. "Like I said. I have my reasons." This said, Koga started away, his face hard and filled with unspoken emotions.
"And just where do you think you’re going?! Get back here!" InuYasha snarled, watching helplessly as his rival in life departed. "Dammit! Stinking wolf! Always talks a good fight, but never does anything about it!"
Frowning in thought, Sango asked, "Speaking of wolf-demons, where’s Azusa? Didn’t she come back with you?"
"Actually, I’m not sure where she went to," Shippo confessed. "She took off a while ago."
"The dumb bitch better not be causing any trouble," InuYasha grumbled. "Stinking wolves. Nothing but trouble, every last one of them!"
"Well, I’m not sure about most wolf-demons, but you’re right about Azusa," Kaname smiled wearily.
"She definitely has a temper," Jiro agreed. Looking at his fellow Demon Slayer, he then asked, "You think we should keep an eye on her?"
"No. The way things have been going, I don’t think Azusa would take too kindly to be watched by any human, especially you," Sango responded. "No offense, but it might just make her act out even worse. And that’s something we can’t afford right now."
"Hmm. I guess you have a point," Jiro replied easily. "But we can’t just ignore her. Not with what she pulled last time."
"Hey, don’t worry about Azusa," Koga told them. "I was planning on making a quick errand. I might as well fetch her while I’m at it."
Bowing her head, Sango answered, "Thanks. I appreciate it, Koga."
"Eh, it’s no big deal," Koga told her. Moving to leave, he waved over his shoulder. "I’ll be back soon enough. Don’t wait up, now!"
"Like we even would!" InuYasha sneered, only to have the object of his scorn disappear before the words could even escape his lips. "Damn! Scrawny wolf!"
Laughing at the half-demon’s ire, Kaname looked about at the others. "Anyway, it’s not like this day has been a total loss," the Kururugi girl told them. "We’ve got the information we needed, right?"
"Yes, but that doesn’t mean we can afford to be careless," Sango stated. "I’m sorry, Michiru, but firing that thing was a big mistake."
"I – I know that, Sango," Michiru spoke mournfully. "I really am sorry. Really."
Taking a deep breath, Sango just looked at the boy. Finally, her face broke out in an amazing smile. "It's okay, Michiru. Just so long as you realize it," the Demon Slayer told him. When the Shikigami User sighed in relief, Sango added, "Anyway, why don’t we go find someplace to eat? We can talk about everything over dinner."
"Huh?" Michiru started, looking blankly at Sango.
"Well, I did say that before, remember?" Sango explained in a soft voice. "About us…talking things over during dinner. Right?"
Blinking rapidly, Michiru was unable to stop a goofy grin from spreading across his face. "Uh, right! You did," the boy got out. "So…is there any place in particular you’d like to go?"
"Hey, I know!" Shippo piped up. "I saw this new restaurant that serves dumplings and pork buns a little ways from here! The stuff they had looked really yummy! Why don’t we go there?"
"Hmm, that does sound good," Jiro admitted. "And I must admit, I am in the mood for something sweet."
Watching as her brother’s face slowly fell, Kaname couldn’t help but feel gloom as well. Oh, no, she fumed. It’s so obvious that they want to be together tonight! Why can’t anybody else see it?!
Her lips tightening, Sango looked at the others present. "Okay, then. We’ll meet up there later," she decided. "But…if nobody minds, I’d…like to do a little shopping first. There’re a few things I’ve been meaning to pick up, and I haven’t had a chance to do it before."
"Oh, no problem!" Shippo answered.
"Of course…I might need a little help…" Sango murmured. A blush lightly colored her cheeks as she looked at the Kururugi boy. "So…would you mind coming with me, Michiru?"
His own breathing coming out more deeply as he blushed as well, Michiru finally nodded. "Oh, of course! No problem, Sango."
"Then it’s all settled," Jiro smiled. "Just come when you’re able."
"Well, I’m glad to hear that," InuYasha stated. The half-demon then turned about and started towards the next room over. "Do me a favor and bring me back something when you’re done, okay?"
"Huh?" Kaname squeaked, raising an eyebrow at InuYasha. "Then…you aren’t coming with us? Why not?"
Turning to give Kaname a surprised look, InuYasha just stared at her for a moment while Sango and Shippo also gazed at her incredulously. The girl looked about at the others in confusion before the half-demon muttered. "Look, I just don’t feel like it, okay?"
"But…" Kaname sputtered. Only to give out entirely as InuYasha left.
As the silence filled the room, Sango looked at Kaname before turning her attention elsewhere. "Hey, Shippo. Why don’t you show Jiro where this restaurant of yours is?" she asked pointedly. "The rest of us will be out shortly."
"Uh…okay," Shippo nodded. "C’mon, Jiro! Let’s go."
"But…" Jiro started, his face blank.
"It’s fine. Just…go ahead," Sango told him firmly. "We’ll be along in a few minutes. Please."
His face still uncertain, Jiro frowned slightly before nodding. Almost silently, he followed Shippo outside, though he glanced back at Sango once before disappearing from sight.
When the two of them were finally gone, Sango gave Michiru a strange look. "So…I take it you didn’t tell her?"
"Huh?" Kaname squeaked out. Her confusion mounting as Michiru lowered his gaze.
"I’m sorry," Michiru got out, averting his eyes. "I just…I didn’t feel like it was my secret to tell, that’s all."
"What secret?" Kaname wondered, looking back and forth between the two of them. "What is it? What are you talking about?"
Looking at Kaname, Sango let a wisp of breath escape her lips before she spoke. "Listen, Kaname. What we’re about to tell you is very important," the Demon Slayer explained. "Whatever happens, you must never tell this to anybody else. Understand?"
Her eyes widening in realization, Kaname asked, "Is that why you asked Jiro to leave?" When Sango nodded, the Kururugi girl’s mouth fell open. "Oh, okay. I understand. But what is it? Does it have something to do with InuYasha?"
"Yes, it does," Sango told her grimly. "Kaname, you know that InuYasha is a half-demon, right?" The girl nodded her understanding. "Well, there’s something about half-demons like him you need to know. A weakness that we have to keep secret."
"A weakness?" Kaname repeated blankly.
"Yes," Michiru agreed. "You see, once a month, half-demons lose their powers and become ordinary humans. And for InuYasha, that happens on the night of the new moon." He paused to glance out the door before adding, "Which means tonight."
"Tonight?!" Kaname gaped, placing her hand over her mouth. "But…you mean that…InuYasha is gonna become a human?!"
"That’s right," Sango agreed. "And that’s why we can’t let anybody know about this. If Naraku or any of our other enemies learned that he was vulnerable on a night like tonight, they would take advantage of this and attack us."
"I – oh, wow! I never guessed…I mean…!" Kaname fumbled. Obviously still flustered by this, she then nodded. "Well, okay. But…bro, why didn’t you tell me about this before?"
"Like I said, I didn’t think it wasn’t my secret to tell," Michiru explained. "InuYasha and the others made me promise not to tell anyone! I couldn’t just...I’m sorry."
Pinching her lips together, Kaname finally nodded. "No, it’s okay. I understand," she told them. "It’s just…wow. I never imagined that…"
"I know, Kaname," Sango told her. "But please, you mustn’t let anybody else know about this. Alright?"
"You don’t have to worry about me," Kaname told them both resolutely. "I can keep a secret."
Nodding, Sango managed an appreciative look. "Thanks, Kaname," she said. Then she looked at Michiru. "Well, we better get going. Jiro will be wondering what’s taking us so long."
"Right," Michiru agreed. The two of them turned to leave, with the boy looking over his shoulder. "You ready, Kaname?"
"Uh, yeah. Just…give me a second, okay?" Kaname requested. When Michiru nodded and the two of them departed, the girl just stood there for a moment. She then turned to look in the direction the half-demon had left in. A half-demon who would soon be a pure human.
"InuYasha…" Kaname murmured. "It must be scary, going through this…"