Hunted Blood II: Dark Reign Ch. 2byAmenRa©
Japan was much the way Michael Stone remembered it. He had spent a great part of his youth here. He looked at the buildings as the taxi he was in drove through the streets of Tokyo. Not much had changed. The neon signs still glared above, while the streets and sidewalks were covered in people of all races. That would make hunting here harder, he knew.
The taxi wound its way up the roads from the city. It drove into the mountains near the city. It followed a road until it entered a small village. The village had changed little since Stone had been there. He thought back. He was twelve years old when he came here for the first time.
The small taxi car stopped in front of a well-landscaped lawn that sat beside the narrow street. Harper got out, paid the driver, and retrieved his luggage from the car's roof. He then walked up the stone steps to the doors of a large building. He sat his luggage down, and pressed the buzzer on the wall beside the double doors.
He was twelve years old when he first came here. A man, his class teacher, dropped him off here. He told Michael that he would return every other day to conduct his schooling. He had told Michael that he would learn his biology, science, history, and math here at this new school. He had turned around and left the boy standing before the doors, holding a suitcase, not unlike the way Stone stood now.
A man dressed in the black hakama pleated pants-skirt of the samurai warriors had opened the double doors for the boy. He had bade Michael entrance. The boy had went inside, and for the next eight years, he had never left.
This night, however, no one opened the door for him. It was unlike Osato-sensei to not answer the door. Stone placed a cautious hand upon the door and pushed. It was unlocked, and it opened under his palm. Stone stepped inside.
The entrance foyer contained a small fountain, its water cascading noisily over three tiers. There were bonzai trees spaced about the small room, as well as arrangements of ikebana flowers. Stone removed his leather shoes and set them on the rack against one wall. He noticed no others there.
Stone moved quietly through an archway into the main room, the dojo. There were lighted candles along the walls that cast shadows upon the large, canvas tatami mat in the center of the room. Stone saw one of the shadows at the far end of the mat move.
The shadow, which Stone now saw was a person, somersaulted in the air and began to cartwheel towards him. When the shadow neared, it leaped into a sidekick aimed at his head. Stone crouched and spun as the shadow flew above him. The shadow landed with a soft step on its feet near the edge of the tatami. Stone looked at the figure clothed in a black, wrapped hood, a black gi, its arms and legs tied at the ends. A ninja.
The ninja unsheathed a short sword from it's belt. A wakizashi, Stone noticed, the short sword carried by the samurai. The ninja attacked with a sweeping cut aimed for Michael's head. Stone dropped again, catching himself on his right hand and kicking out with his left leg. He felt his foot push against the attacker's chest. The ninja stumbled backwards, then dropped under the force of the kick. The black-garbed attacker then rolled backwards to its feet.
Stone stood relaxed in an aiki-jujutsu receiving posture. He had no idea who this ninja was. Or, why the warrior would attack him. It didn't matter, though. If the ninja was fighting with mushi-no-in, the mind of no mind, then he was prepared to die. And that was fine by Michael Stone.
The ninja attacked again, a cut that came from overhead. Stone sidestepped the strike, and moved into a shaolin snake posture. He struck at the ninja's head with the back of his hand in a kokku strike. The ninja fell backwards, stumbled, then regained his balance. The attacker swung with the sword again, an arcing cut that should have cut Stone into.
Michael stepped into the cut, taking the attacker's wrists into his hands. He turned his body with the cut, rolling the ninja's hands in his own. The shadow warrior was thrown to the mat. The sword came away into Michael's hands.
Stone prepared a cut to the ninja's head. Then, the overhead lights in the dojo came on. Michael stopped the razor sharp blade just inches before the downed ninja's neck. Michael turned to see Osato-sensei standing at the end of the rectangular room.
"Please don't, Michael-san," Osato said to him. "It would be a great waste of resources." The old man was smiling. Stone removed the sword from where he had stopped the cut. He stepped back a few paces, then faced his master, and bowed. Osato returned the bow.
Toshiro Osato was almost eighty now. His white hair, sparse and thin, was no longer held in a topknot. He gestured to the black-clad figure on the floor. "To your feet, Mariko-san," he said.
Stone watched as the ninja stood. The black head wrap came off, and a beautiful young Japanese woman shook her long, shiny black hair free from it. She looked at Stone, although she never met his eyes with hers. She bowed reverently.
"Stone-sensei," she said. "It is an honor. I am Mariko Norimura."
"Kunoichi," Stone said, using the Japanese word for a female ninja, "you could have been killed."
"It was my idea," the master said, clasping Stone's shoulder. "It was a test," he explained. "One that she failed. Miserably."
"To kill me, Sensei?" Stone asked.
"No. To simply touch you, with or without a weapon."
Stone nodded his head. He took on a sincere air of humility. "Perhaps, Sensei, you would consider a more accessible target for her next time?"
The old man smiled. He knew that after Stone had left him, the American boy had gone to China. There he had studied under the ancient shaolin masters. The old samurai knew that Stone had combined his knowledge of Japanese and Chinese martial arts. He was aware that Stone was perhaps the finest hand-to-hand combatant he had ever seen. And the deadliest.
The trio left the dojo, retreating to the master's study. Mariko left them alone for a few moments. When she returned, she was dressed in a red silk kimono. Her hair was damp. Stone looked at her. Her skin was golden and her brown eyes sparkled. She was beautiful.
Mariko poured tea for them. Once she was seated, the master nodded his head, and Stone began.
"I was investigating murders in a small town in Southern Georgia. The vampire, or vampires, that did the killing had left. I knew that I was only a few days behind them." Stone took a sip of tea. "I found their lair. And there, I found this," he finished as he pulled the piece of paper from his pocket. He handed it to Osato.
The old man looked at it. His dark eyes went wide. "It has been my belief that Akuma was here in Japan for quite a while," he said. "However, there have been no tell-tale signs of a vampire infestation."
Stone knew of what the master spoke. Whenever there were vampires in a city, people died. It usually started as one or two a week, then gradually became more as the vampire increased its hunger for blood.
"Sensei," Stone asked, "could Akuma be recruiting?"
"Hai," the old man answered. "It is possible. And, if so, most dangerous."
"What do we know of Akuma?" Mariko spoke. They both looked at her. Ordinarily, a woman never spoke when men were speaking. Stone looked at his teacher. The master nodded.
"Not much, I'm afraid," Stone told her. "He is a very old vampire, and very powerful. It is believed that he was the leader of a large group of vampires in the 17th Century. This group attempted to destroy many people, but was put down by hunters from The Organization. He has been quiet ever since."
Stone looked back at his master. "If he is here, in Japan, and he is gathering a coven, then there will be signs."
Osato nodded. "Yes," he stated. "Perhaps you will look for him in the city?"
"Yes, Sensei," Stone answered. "I will."
"Mariko will accompany you."
Stone raised an eyebrow and started to speak. The old man waved his hand. "She is a hunter. She is ready. Her training is complete. She has only recently returned from Europe. She will be an asset to you."
Stone nodded his head. She had most probably been to Europe to train with French, British, or German special operations groups. Stone himself had went through U.S. Army Ranger school, as well as training with the U.S. Navy SEALs, the British SAS, and the German GSG-9. These groups taught the military aspects of close-quarters battle, or CQB. Combat weapons training, clandestine assault techniques, survival, and discipline were all necessary requirements for a hunter of vampires.
Stone looked at his watch. "We leave at midnight," he told her.
Sex came easily for him. It only took his telepathic suggestion to any of the young women that he kept in his harem. All he had to do was think it, and they disrobed before him, obediently lying upon whatever furnishings were there, or even the floor. They would reverently spread their legs, showing him the glistening petals of their sex, rubbing themselves for him, placing their hands and fingers wherever he wished.
But they were more than just facilities of pleasure to him. They were also food.
The one that now bobbed her head up and down on his penis was nothing more than food. He watched her with disinterest. Her eyes were locked onto his, a dazed expression in them, as if they had no life of their own. She sucked him hungrily, rubbing her tongue on the underside of his cock as her cheeks hollowed. And when he pumped his sterile semen into her mouth, she swallowed simply, as if it were no matter at all.
She moved to get up, and he grabbed her by her neck with one hand, forcing her closer to him behind the large oak desk. He pulled her down, then in one movement, sank his fangs into her jugular vein. As her blood flowed into his mouth, so did her life. When he had finished, he tossed her gray and cold body onto the floor. Someone immediately moved to pick it up and carry it away.
He turned his cold eyes to the one that sat before him. He stood, his mouth still stained with blood, and leaned across the desk.
"Your group left a trail in America," he said. "It was dangerous for you to come here so soon."
The younger blonde haired vampire shrugged. "Hell, man, you said come at once, so we did."
He smoothed his black ponytail across his shoulders, then slapped the impudent one sharply across the face. His nails gashed the boy's face, and blood welled into the cuts.
He sat back down again as he watched the young one regain his composure. He folded his arms across his chest, pulling his crimson colored robe tighter about him. "You know my rules, boy. No traces. It will be some time before our group is of sufficient strength to prepare an attack. However, if you can not obey me, then you will be replaced. Do you understand?"
"Yes, my lord," the vampire spoke. So, he did understand his place. Good.
"See to the club," he said. "And only turn those who are strong."
The younger one bowed his head and stood. He left the room. The one known as Akuma watched him go. He had his doubts about this one, for he was so young. But, everything was going according to plan. Soon, he would unleash his wrath. And the world would know a new terror. And they would all bow under his reign.
--to be continued...