Chapter Three
Rai Akatsume


"You can't win like that," I muttered. Here I was facing off against some girl I'd only met yesterday on a total whim in the record store. I wasn't sure what had possessed me to wander over to her, but something about her seemed familiar….

And now I knew what it was: She was an Inugami… a Yokai. The thought that another one of us would appear so suddenly and without any prior warning made me want to shudder. I was supposed to be the last one created.

A breeze blew my bangs in front of my eyes, almost like a black shadow covering my vision. The next moment, Skyler charged towards me blindly, her Inugami in complete control of her actions. On instinct alone, I tensed to prepare for attack, but what I heard next certainly surprised me.

"Wait!" Sky yelled aloud, "Don't attack him! I'm mad, but not that mad."

She has no control, a voice said in my head. She's going to get herself killed like that. Rai, you'd better calm her down.

If she had no control at all, then she wouldn't be able to speak. She has a strong will, I replied to the voice in my head as I relaxed somewhat. Perhaps a fight would be avoidable, since Skyler at least seemed to be willing to stop. A sense of nostalgia washed over me as Sky rushed at me: it was almost like watching a mirror of myself from three years ago….

Three years ago; it seemed like yesterday.

I sighed, and got into a cat stance, deciding a defensive position was better for disengaging Sky. As I awaited her Sky's approach, a feline appeared before me in my mind's eye: my Yokai animal. She had a dark grey pelt, nearly as dark as my own hair, but not quite, and was speckled with a set of pale blue stripes that almost seemed to glow along her back. I had to restrain myself from smiling at her fluffed up pelt as Sky crept closer and closer. I had named her Nightingale when we first became one, due to her dark fur, but as time grew, she became more accustomed to Night. Finally, when Sky was only inches away, our consciousness seemed to come together as one, and immediately, I sidestepped, and pushed Skyler to the side. She rolled on the floor with the force of my blow, and got back to her feet. Immediately, she set about charging at me again. Skyler herself still protested, yelling for this to stop.

I grimaced; being a Yokai came with perks, but mostly hindrances. Fights were the number one problem for me it seemed, even if I myself am a pacifist. Despite my beliefs against violence, I knew awhile ago that it was necessary for me to know how to fight… even if I hated it.

What was worse is that I was good at it. I had progressed in my martial arts training so well, I could beat my teacher. I was a third degree black belt. My frown deepened upon that thought….

The last time I had fought…. I shook my head. I had to focus on the now, and hope nothing bad happened this time. The last thing I wanted was for me to hurt Sky. We had only just met, and I needed to make sure she wasn't working with the same people that had created me.

"Here we go," I muttered. Sky was by me moments later, slashing out with her right hand. I slipped to the left, just barely avoiding the blow, and then, quicker than any regular human could react, I grabbed her wrist. I was making good progress, but I wasn't done yet; I still had to render her useless so she couldn't fight… which was proving to be difficult. Skyler struggled in my grasp, snarling and flailing. She even kicked me in my shin, causing me to wince, but I kept up my grasp.

Remember your training, Night said in her usual calm, her claws kneading the air as if it were soft earth. I found myself smirking, the thrill of fighting catching up to me; Sure, I hadn't been in a real fight for awhile, but it didn't matter, the actions came to me naturally; They were built into my muscles from my years of training.

Sky finally managed to struggle free of my grip with a giant pull of her hand. The force caused her to stumble, but it didn't take long for her to start attacking again. For now, I continued on the defensive, learning her strategy so I could best her later. She came at me with a right punch, and then a left punch, followed by a sweep at the ankles. Just basic maneuvers that only an inexperienced fighter might know. Obviously, Sky knew something of self defense, but not enough to stop me.

"I'll kill you," she muttered, eyes flashing an inhuman blue color. I stopped, the thrill of the fight leaving my eyes. I stepped back, concerned.

"What is this?" I asked to no one in particular. My eyes widened in horror as I saw fur start to creep along her neck and arms. She was transforming into her Yokai. This was new… I had never seen this happen with any of the others back at home. Let me just say, it was a grotesque site: seeing a human forcibly being changed into a beast. No doubt, it was painful as well, for Sky wailed in pain.

"Make it stop!" she yelled into the air, her voice echoing in my ears. I could almost imagine her horrified face as her brown hair started to turn into a midnight black color… no doubt the color of the Inugami.

Damn, I swore in the depths of my mind. Night hissed in fear at the sight of Skyler's transformation. I had to act quicker than I thought; something told me if this transformation continued, it would be too late to do anything….

Immediately, I ran forward, and dived towards Sky's arm. Before she could react, I secured a grip on it, and quickly twisted her arm around her back. Then, following the same motion, I brought my other hand around her neck, and stood up so she was off the ground. If she moved, she'd choke herself.

"Don't struggle," I said seriously, attempting to calm the Inugami down. "Or you'll suffocate."

"Bastard!" the canine snarled. "Let go of me! I'll kill you!"

"Calm down," I replied, ignoring the threats. "What do you have against me and Night? Did we do anything to anger you? We offer our apologies if we did."

Instead of speaking, Sky snarled, struggled, and lashed out with her legs, hoping to break free. I applied more pressure around her neck, but she would not let up.

"It hurts…" Sky managed to choke out despite her Yokai's control. Her eyes went back to their deep brown color at that moment, and the fur seemed to fade… just a bit. The look on her face immediately reminded me of the last time I had fought, and for one fearful moment, I could see the room where I had done it, not too long ago.

Immediately, I loosened my grip. "I'm sorry," I said quickly, regaining my composure on the outside, despite how shaken up I was, however Skyler stayed motionless for a few moments, making my fear grow once again. I could feel my heart beat about ten times as fast at that moment. I didn't kill her… no, not that again….

Thankfully, those worries slipped away a moment later when she let out a laugh, or rather, her Inugami laughed. "You are too easily fooled. I could break out now, and kill you in an instant," the Yokai spat out in Sky's voice. If I had been facing off against a Yokai a few years ago, I would be unable to tell who was saying what, but it was clearly obvious now. I had had far too many encounters with these spirits since I became a Baneneko, or a cat Yokai.

My eyes narrowed at the sound of the spirit talking back to me, but secretly, I was relieved. "Then do it," I taunted. "I stopped for Sky's sake not yours."

My eyes softened in sympathy for the young girl. She couldn't be any older than myself, and already, she had a curse upon her. I was tempted, once again, to strangle the life out of the Inugami controlling her, but fighting never solved anything, and this predicament wasn't going to be solved by dragging it out any longer.

"You have already proven you are stronger," Sky started. "I need to try a different tactic."

I let out something akin to a hiss, no doubt by the influence of Night. What was with this Yokai? It was so intent on shedding my blood. I mean, I had been the same way… but it was me intent on shedding blood, not my Yokai. It was the opposite for Sky.

"Why me?" I asked. "Why attack me?"

"Because, you contain a Baneneko!" she snarled, struggling again. I applied pressure around her neck in order to restrain her, but this time, more fur crept along Sky's skin. The more angry her Inugami got, the more she would be pushed into this transformation. I frowned. This was bad….

"So?" I asked raising an eyebrow, pretending I wasn't worried. "What's it to you. We are both Yokai after all."

"It doesn't," she snarled. "I just want to kill you. I hate cats."

Why? Night asked in my mind, as if she were offended. It's not like dogs are any better. In fact cats are far better than dogs in most aspects!

I found myself laughing at Night's disdain, even if it was only a distraction of what was yet to come. I still had to figure out what to do with Skyler.

"Shut up you little--" the Inugami started, but cut itself off as it bit down into my arm with fangs that had apparently grown in due to the transformation.

I yelled in pain, not expecting her teeth to penetrate my skin, and let go. If I had been paying attention, I would have been able to anticipate that!

Too late now, I thought. She was out of my grasp, and transforming ever more into her Inugami's image. I swore loudly, something I rarely did unless I was in some deep trouble. Sky was going to take the form of her Yokai if I didn't do something soon.

"Can't we compromise?" I tried, hoping to god that maybe, this spirit would compromise.

Sky let out a low rumbling growl, refusing to even consider the offer. I sighed. I would need to end things quickly, and the only way I could think of was to actually hurt her… even if I was afraid to.

I'll just have to stay as focused as possible…

"Well then," I muttered as I took another stance. "I apologize ahead of time."

"You won't need to apologize to me when I turn you in for being in league with those bastards. You came from the lab. I can still the awful scent of chemicals in your blood!"

"Wait, what? You think I'm in league with them?" I asked, dropping the stance I had just took in preparation to finish her off. The lab? How did Sky's Inugami know about it… unless….

"Don't try and fool me with your stupid tricks! I don't trust you. Not for a minute!" the Yokai snarled viciously. I grimaced again. Obviously, I'd have to subdue the canine to make it listen properly. I charged forward, crouching low, and gracefully slipping around Sky's violent defense. In the blink of an eye, I spun in the opposite direction of her, and kicked my leg up and around, hitting her head in a backwards roundhouse. A audible crack was heard as my ankle connected with Sky's skull.

All the fur along her skin seemed to dissapear in an instant as Sky stumbled away from me, getting onto two legs once again. She swayed for a few moments, groaning from the pain of impact, and then fell onto the roof with a thud.

I kept my stance for a few moments, just to make sure Skyler's Inugami wasn't going to pull any other tricks….

When I finally realized nothing was happening, I relaxed. Sighing, I wiped the sweat off my forehead, leaving a smear of blood from my limb. I looked down at my arm. It was still bleeding from when Sky had bit me.

"Ow, this is going to sting later," I muttered to myself.

Not too shabby Rai, Night said. You still haven't lost your touch.

"Just who do you think you're dealing with?" I replied aloud as I bent over to pick up Sky's unconscious body. Thankfully, I knew enough about Yokai to know that Inugami healed from anything as long as they were kept alive. A kick to the head would wear off in an hour, two tops.

"What should I do with her until then?" I thought aloud.

Bring her back home, Night suggested. We should tell Tom.

"Yeah…." I trailed off, thinking of what to do. "Maybe."

While I felt I should be loyal to my adopted family, I wasn't sure if it was best to tell Tuomas, my mentor about Sky… at least not until I knew where her Inugami came from.

Sure, Tom had raised me from the time of my creation up to now, and sure he had taught me how to control the spirit trapped inside of me, but what the Inugami said was suspicious. The lab was shut down three years ago. If it was still known now, then people were working under it….

I get it, Night said, You're suspicious of Tom now.

Yeah, I thought back. He told me he went in and destroyed that place.

Images of the laboratory crossed my mind; all of us sitting in isolated rooms with wires attached to us. Shockwaves of energy pulsing through our veins, and when we didn't respond the way they wanted us to, being shot dead….

And waking up in another room with a voice in our heads… our Yokai.

I shook my head of the thoughts as Night spoke up: It is questionable when you put it that way, she said. We certainly don't want those guys back. A place that forces people to become Yokai shouldn't exist. There is a reason our two worlds are separated, and they should never clash.

I nodded in response, still too disturbed by my own thoughts to properly say anything, as I carefully placed Sky on my back. I made my way to the edge of the building and jumped, landing on the sidewalk below on two feet and one hand, while supporting Sky's body with my other hand. Slowly, I got back up, so as to not drop her, and made my way towards my house. Thankfully, I didn't live too painfully far from here, so the walk wouldn't take too long. Still, it was not how I wanted to spend my day, not to mention the staff at the library would probably have my head later….

"Man, if she got mad about a book, I don't even wanna know how she'll be when she wakes up…right?" I asked Night, realizing Skyler was holding onto the book like it was gold.

I doubt it's something you can't handle, Nightingale replied. If anyone knows how to disengage angry teens its you.

"Yeah, because I've already gone through that stage," I sighed. "And it sucked."

You think it was a walk in the park for me either? You think I like sharing your anger? Remember whatever you feel, I feel with about ten times as much strength, Night replied, although her tone seemed to hold some suspicion, as if she wasn't convinced I was out of that stage.

Despite Night's odd attitude on the conversation, I chuckled. "Why do you think I act so optimistic all the time? I definitely wouldn't want you turning back into the snappy, old, irritable Nightingale again would I?"

Night hissed playfully in my head, and I smiled, even if I knew something was terribly wrong with her. Regardless, I dropped it, and our consciousness separated, leaving me to think freely once again.

There was a reason I was named Rai, or "lie" in English: I had to make everything vague…so vague that I could laugh at it, especially when it came to Nightingale. Yokai were evil…right? Never to be trusted, and therefore, I was supposed to fool them? Wasn't that what I was raised to believe?


A/N: Thank you Wyrewolf and Possk for getting me off my ass to keep writing. I needed to get this chapter up. Any more criticism you guys (or anyone else that happens to be reading this) wants to give me would be AMAZING! xD

I'm aware this chapter is shorter than the other two. If I were to add on the next part, then the chapter would be too long, and hitting a different theme. I'm more thank halfway done with Ch. 4 already. Hopefully, I can get that up soon-ish? Depends how evil my mother decides to be.