Now they have awakened from their slumber, and gathered in the Dark. On the night of that gathering, when Shinma and Humans met again a young girl strayed into their midst. This is her story. Her name is
They both stopped to allow a black cat to walk by. "Ooo," Jack said jokingly, "a black cat crossed our path. That's bad luck."
"Ha, ha," Himiko laughed nervously, "You know I don't believe in anything like that."
Himiko and Jack had been going out for several weeks and she had enjoyed every second of it. It was the first time she felt really secure since she first met Miyu. Himiko desperately wanted this to work out. So much so she had hid things from Jack, most significantly her job. She knew he would have to find out sometime, but she kept telling herself that she should wait until their relationship was more solidified.
Meanwhile, the black cat trotted down the dark alley, drawn by a force his mind couldn't understand. He walked past a pile of refuse, turned left and slipped through a small open window that was at street level.
It was warmer inside and there was another cat who welcomed him. The other cat had long white fur, like a Persian, and strange pale eyes. His natural instincts should have told him to be suspicious of this unknown cat, but he felt very comfortable. Then he smelt the most wonderful food he had ever encountered. He went right over and started to greedily gobble it up. It had deferentially been worth the risky trip through the streets to get here, the cat thought to himself. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain on the back of his neck. He turned around, claws at the ready, to see who it was.
He saw nothing.
A new purpose now dominated his thoughts. He had to go home. Normally this would have been a difficult journey, but he felt like he had some sort of divine guidance leading him there.
He sat down and said, "Hello there." Himiko looked up, hoping her blushing didn't show. She took a sip of her coffee to try to hide it. "I'm Jack Horkimer," he continued, "tell me, what's your name?"
They talked for several hours that night. She discovered a great deal about him. He spent his days as a junior partner in a bond trading company which brought in enough money for him to plan many trips to exotic places, but took too much time from him to let him go anywhere. The most interesting thing he had actually done was walk to the top of Mount Fuji. Himiko carefully avoided telling him about her all too interesting job and focused on her few very conventional hobbies. She was happy as long as he was doing the talking.
They met several more times at the cafe that week and by the time the weekend rolled around they were officially dating.
Jenn was sitting on coach reading when Mumps jumped up on her lap. Jenn was always a little annoyed when Mumps did that, but she had gotten used to it. As the cat moved around trying to get comfortable Jenn thought that he wasn't reacting normally. He seemed almost hostile. She suddenly felt a sharp pain in her thigh. She only had time to realize that Mumps had scratched her before she started to feel it. She felt her bones shrinking, her skin crawling, her body changing, and her mind warping.
This only lasted a few seconds before it was complete. Her mind was now virtually empty compared to what it was. All she could think about was that she was trapped under this sheet. She couldn't think of a way to get out. All she could to do was sit there and meow in panic.
With the check now in hand she felt ready face whomever was behind her door. She opened it to reveal two people, a man and a woman. The woman was the first to speak. "Are you Se Himiko, spiritualist?"
"Yes I am," Himiko answered.
"It's about our daughter, she's... she's..."
The woman stuttered so the man stepped in, "I think it would be best if we showed you, at our house."
"Very well. I'll be ready in a minute." Himiko went to get her coat and a few basic supplies.
As they travelled in the car Himiko determined these two were husband and wife, Jon and Adrien Adler. They seemed very distraught as they talked to each other in the front seat of the car. Himiko overheard something about their daughter and the police. She feared that it was another Shinma attack, but on another level she was hopeful it would be another opportunity to confront Miyu.
When they arrived at their modest semi-detached house she was lead into the kitchen. They seemed to be leading her to two bowls of cat food. Adrien said, "I'll see if I can find them," and left the room.
A few minutes later she came back with a black cat in her arms and a white one following behind her. She put down the cat she was carrying and closed the kitchen door behind her so the cats couldn't leave. She started to explain, "Yesterday, before I went out to the store, we had one cat, Mumps," she pointed to the black cat she had carried, "and one daughter, Jenn. When I come back, an hour later, Jenn was gone. The clothes she was wearing where piled on the couch, and buried in the center of that pile was another cat," she pointed to the white cat that had followed her in.
"So you're saying, your daughter turned into a cat?" Himiko asked.
"Well, yes," Jon answered. "Is that too far fetched? We don't know what a spiritualist regularly deals with."
Himiko paused. "It's not too far fetched. May I begin my investigation with the clothes your daughter was wearing?"
She looked for evidence of supernatural activity throughout the house, but found none. This made her more convinced that their daughter is now a cat, and that Shinma where involved. After the white cat fell asleep Himiko investigated it. She found it seemed to have remarkable intelligence. Himiko had little experience with animals and none with cats. Before she could know if this cat's intelligence was unusual she was going to have to investigate a cat that is known to be normal. Mumps was too involved in the case so she decide she was going to have to get her own cat.
The cat had been mewing all the way from the humane society. She was now more determined then ever to return the cat when she was finished with it. When she opened the cage the cat showed no reaction. It stayed in and kept on whining. All Himiko could do was sigh. She had to get the cat comfortable with her before she could get a sense of its intelligence.
After several hours and all the food Himiko had bought the cat before it finally settled down. She found this cat had a fair degree of intelligence, but significantly less then the Adler's mysterious cat. Himiko was now sure that and Adler's new cat was their daughter.
She travelled back to the Adler's house, with her new cat in tow. When she arrived, there are a police car in front of the house. The police didn't usually take kindly to private investigators, particularly ones of her variety. Adrien let her in and they joined Jon and the two policemen.
Adrien introduced Himiko to the officers, "This is Se Himiko. We have hired her to investigates some... unconventional possibilities." Himiko hid her cringing by putting down her cat. The cat took one look at the other two cats and started mewing, again.
"Oh, I see," the senior cop slowly said. "Tell me, Miss Himiko, what have you found out so far."
She decided she didn't have much to loose so she told all and watched to see what their reaction would be. "Quite a bit actually. I have found that the cat that appeared where Jenn disappeared has an intelligence disproportionately high compared to my typical cat." She pointed to her cat, which was still mewing noisily. "Also, this type of thing in not unusual compared with some other things I have seen. Taken together with the fact that it is unlikely someone would have set things up so it appears that Jenn turned into a cat leads me to conclude that a supernatural entity was involved in this. Specifically a Shinma."
"A Shinma? Ha! Why am I even listening to this clap-trap? Come on, lets search the girl's room."
They two policemen started heading toward to stairs, but the junior one stayed behind. He said to Himiko quietly, "You know there's been several disappearances where it looks like people have been replaced by cats. That all have one thing in common. The victims all had a cat living with them already." He turned away and hurried after his partner.
Himiko was now alone with the Adlers. She started, "I just told them what I had come to tell you. Also it seems Jenn is not the first person this has happened to."
Jon interrupted, "Can you do anything for our Jenn?"
"No, don't think so. I've never seen a Shinma's evil reversed. The best we can hope for is to prevent this from happening again."
"Do you think you can stop this Shinma?" Adrien ask, hopefully.
"No, not me." Himiko looked towards the roof, partly because she was ashamed she could do so little, partly in hopes Miyu was listening. Himiko was getting really downtrodden. Miyu always seemed to have things well in hand and all she could do was observe.
Himiko prepared to leave. Just as she stepped outside she said, feigning optimism, "I'll inform you of any developments." Adrien closed the door. Himiko turned around and looked at the darkness of the street. It didn't make her feel any better. The advent of another expensive cab ride didn't help, either. She wanted to think anyway. She decided to try getting away with taking her cat on the subway.
People stared at Himiko. They didn't often see people walking their cat down a bar strip. The cat enjoyed all the lights, people and traffic, but Himiko barely noticed it. She was too deep in thought and worry. She saw no options. She didn't know where to find the Shinma and she didn't know what she could do if she found it. Humans weren't supposed to fight Shinma, the Guardian was. She could try to find Miyu, but she had never been able to before. Miyu had always found her.
She looked up and found herself staring into Jack's face. "Jack..." Himiko was interrupted by the cat. He started to wine again.
"What's with the cat, kitten?" Jack asked.
"Ahhh," Himiko stuttered, "it's for a job." She instantly wanted to take that back.
Jack eyebrows where raised. "What kind of job is that?"
Himiko search her mind for something to say. "For a friend. A job for a friend. I'm taking care of her cat while she's away."
"It certainly is cranky." He bent down and started petting it. "What's its name?"
Himiko hadn't thought about a name. She didn't except to have it for that long.
"It sure complains enough." Jack stopped petting it. It only seemed to make the cat more unhappy. "It's like C-Kat." He smiled at her. She smiled back, despite the fact she didn't know what he was talking about.
C-Kat suddenly stopped mewing and to started walk straight ahead. When he reached the end of his leash his determination almost pulled Himiko over. She instinctively allowed herself to be walked by her cat.
The three walk silently for a moment. Jack interrupted the uneasy silence by asking, "So, unless you take care of cats for a living, what do you really do?"
Himiko went from uneasy silence to uneasy speech, "Well, I'm sort of a consultant, sort of an investigator."
Jack stared at Himiko, waiting for the real answer.
"It's actually very specialized and somewhat technical." Suddenly the cat turned a corner into an alley. "Where is this cat going?" she said taking the opportunity to change the subject.
"Why are you trying to avoid telling me? Are you a sex therapist or something?"
"No, no, nothing like that," Himiko answered. C-Kat walked up to an open basement window and tried to go in, but Himiko didn't allow him to go any further.
"Himiko, just tell me. The sooner I find out the sooner you can stop worrying about it."
"Well..." Suddenly C-Kat's leash 'slipped' right out of Himiko's hand. "Oh no! There he goes into someone's basement."
Jack leaped down to grab the leash before it disappeared, but just missed it. He got up off his stomach and onto his knees. After bushing off some of the rocks that has impaled themselves into his body he looked through the window. He was soon joined by Himiko.
Jack looked over to her, "You're still going to have to tell me what you do for a living."
C-Kat came back into their field of view. He went straight for a bowl of food on the floor. Soon another cat came into view, pale white in colour. It walked up to C-Kat, who didn't take any notice. Then in an unusual move for a cat, it raised one is it's front paws up, towards C-Kat. What they saw next almost appeared to be an optical illusion. It looked like the cat's paw stretched out and became pointed at the end. This distorted paw tapped C-Kat on the back. C-Kat reacted to this by sheaking and running back towards the window. Himiko and Jack moved out of the way in anticipation of C-Kat running back out the window. C-Kat did come out the window, but he didn't run. He walked, as if in a daze, past Himiko and Jack and out into the middle of the alley. He looked both ways before sitting down and waiting.
They both where so struck by the strange behavior they just stared at the cat for a moment. Jack broke the silence, "Lets get that crazy cat and go."
"I don't think we should go near it," Himiko responded.
"Why, the heck, not?"
"I think it would be very dangerous."
"Why? What is it going to do, attack us?"
"Possibly." After staring at the cat for a while longer Himiko said, "I think we should go."
They slipped slowly back up the alley, staying as far away from their cat as possible but still facing him so they could watch him. Once they got about thirty meters down the lane they turned around and prepared to run but they both ran right into someone.
She appeared to be a young woman dressed in a tight white dress covered in what appeared to be bits of plastic that made it appeared to shimmer. Her face was pale white. Her hair was cut short, and was almost as white as her face. Her eyes where the eyes of an albino, they only had a hint of red. She looked stern as she told them, "You have successfully evaded your fate. Your cat is no threat to you anymore. Please retrieve him and treat him well in the future."
They both glanced behind them see C-Kat walking calmly towards them. When they looked back to the woman, but she was gone.
"Who was that?" Jack was still in shock.
As Himiko calmly bent down to pick up C-Kat, who had once again started mewing, she said, "Dealing with that, is my job." She stood up with C-Kat in her arms. "It is a Shinma."
"Are you sure he's safe?" ask Jack, referring to the cat.
"No," Himiko responded promptly and coolly. They started walking out of the ally.
"Oh," Jack pretended to be calm too. The continued walking for a bit before he asked, "What's a Shinma?"
"I don't really know," was Himiko's only answer. Himiko stopped and turned towards Jack. "Are you starting to understand why I didn't want to tell you about my job?"
"At this point in time I won't admit to understanding anything."
"I don't know. I've never done this before. I think we have to find its real name. That's not enough to stop her. Revealing its name only reduces its power. To stop it for once and all it mush be banished to the Dark. I don't have the power to do that."
"I thought you said it was you job?"
"Yes, but I don't usually have to deal with such evasive and powerful creatures."
"Creatures, you mean their actually demons with, like, supernatural powers?"
"There is supposed to be someone else dealing with Shinma, but I know of no way of contacting her."
Himiko looked out into space wishing Miyu would appear, but it didn't help.
She just stared through the window while she tried to decide what she was going to do next. She had seen four battles with Shinma and could do nothing but watch for all of them. Now she was preparing to take on a Shinma by herself and she had no idea of how to do it.
She turned around with a start. She saw C-Kat and Jack's legs. "What are you two doing here?" the surprise was still in her voice.
Jack knelt down so he was face to face with Himiko. "I'm here to help you."
"To help me do what?"
"I don't know. I feel there is still a wall between us. You keep hiding your job from me. People's jobs are an important part of themselves. So, I decided to fallow you and find you what you really do."
"You could have pick a better time."
"Listen, I think it would be best if we talked about this later. This is very dangerous. You should really go now."
"It's dangerous?" Jack now sounded worried, "This more reason I should stay."
"Why have you returned?" Himiko, Jack and C-Kat look up to where the new voice had come from. They both recognized the woman in white that they had encountered in this alley the night before.
Himiko put into motion the only plan she had thought of. "Why, only for the opportunity to look upon your beauty once again," she started.
"It is rare for my beauty to be appreciated by humans. That is why it is rare for me to show myself to them in this form."
"We are deeply grateful for our opportunity for use to view your visage, but beauty can be more the skin deep. Will you share with us some of your inner beauty, like your philosophy, name and purpose?"
Jack didn't have a clue what was happening and hoped no-one would ask him anything. C-Kat just sat and cleaned himself.
"You present yourself as quite a patron of beauty. I will grant you request. My name is Go-To-Ku-Ji-Neko..."
"Please, please", Himiko interrupted, "while that is a wonderful name, I do not believe it is your true name. I'm sure only your true name could match the perfection of your other attributes."
"It is true. My genuine name in Bast. I, as you likely has deduced, am the patron god of cats. I am the essence of their beauty and grace. I protect them and punish those who do not treat my benefactors with the upmost regard." While Bast was saying this Himiko subtlety pulled a pen and a piece of paper out of her pocket.
"This punishment?" Himiko asked, "Is it that you give the very cat that had been the victim of the discourtesy the ability to extract revenge, by granting it the power to turn the offender into a cat?"
"Yes! Delightful irony isn't it?"
"Mmmm. In spite of the service you provide for cats you are still a Shinma and this world in not the place for creatures such as yourself."
Bast's voice showed some anger, "There are many who disagree. We are the most powerful creatures on this planet! Why should it be our place to hide away in Dark like scared gophers." Bast paused, "You talk like a Guardian, yet I sense you are no Shinma."
"It is true. I am not a Guardian, so, I'll just have to do the best can." Himiko turned around put the paper up to the wall and started writing on it.
"What are you doing!" Jack ask, now realizing Himiko was intending to attack this creature.
Himiko had finished the single word. She turned to face the Shinma, around holding the paper in her outstretched arm. "Shinma, Bast, return to the Dark!" The letters on the page spontaneously lit on fire. Himiko instantly dropped the paper, which was nearly incinerated before it reached the ground.
Himiko had played her only card. For a few moments she just stood in amazement that it actually worked as well as it did. She was just getting around the wondering if her success was a good thing or not when Shinma spoke, "What are you going to do now, Himiko?"
There was a sudden crash from behind Bast. When she turned to see what it was her eyes widened in panic. The building behind her had been replaced with a dim glow of red and a black silhouette of a huge leafless tree.
"No!" was all that was heard from the Shinma before a blue glow surrounded and engulfed it. The glow quickly faded leaving no trace of the Shinma.
The tree remained long enough to say, "You will be an excellent replacement, Himiko," before it to faded away restoring the original building.
They could have heard the roar of the traffic, if they where listening, but all Himiko and Jack could do was stare and try and comprehend what just happened to them. Eventually Jack stepped forward to ask Himiko, "What was that thing?"
Like most the questions she had asked herself about anything to do with Shinma and Miyu the answer was, "I don't know."
This is the second in a series, so if you haven't read the first
one please do. It's called Fortune's Fate and it will be permanently
ftp.std.com under the name
If you're an OS/2 user or you can't handle .gz compression then
They stories should be
stored there for a few months. These stories where written with OS/2
Enhanced Editor and contain some formatting codes. These codes do not
have much effect on the story and will be ignored by any other
program. To access these codes you will have to use a unzipper
running under OS/2.
I'd like to thank Ken Meredith (this is the same person who as called Guy Lefleur last time), Kishin X and Raven Darksaint for their help with this story. The UMJAFC for introducing me to Miyu. AnimEigo, for doing an excellent sub of an excellent show. Of course, Narumi Kakinouchi and Toshihiro Hirano, for creating the most chillingly charming vampire girl on a page or in a video anywhere. Lastly, Christian Gadeken for the previous sentence and the model for my author's note. Why not read his story, "Who framed Vampire-Princess Miyu" where Miyu faces the real world.
Stay subscribed to this newsgroup for the next episode of Vampire-Princess Miyu where Himiko joins a long time friend to celebrate the opening of her new hotel. She finds Miyu has been invited too and there's another Shinma who has set his sights set on Miyu. The question is what are his intentions. Also, Himiko is forced to decide which side she's really on. Coming in a month or three.