Nakoruru Samurai Shodown
Fan Fiction
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Electric Demon
by Mark Patraw
Homepage: Mark's Art Page

Chapter 12

      Galford anxiously fumbled with the hilt of his sword; something just didn't seem right. He stood motionless, his internal alarm system screaming danger.
      Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea after all…
      He should have listened to Kiko and forgotten all about Ruoh's scheme…or at least waited until his enemies came to him on his terms, not theirs.
      Galford listened closely to even the most imperceptible of noises, and studied every featureless rock, but couldn't find anything amiss. Still, the whole situation just felt wrong.
      "Ruoh." He breathed, almost inaudibly, his unease growing.
      The black clad ninja appeared silently at his side.
      "How many of the Iga know about this passage?"
      "Not many. Only the higher ranked ninja know of its location. That would be no more than two dozen of us perhaps, myself and Hanzo included."
      Hmm. Galford could probably handle several Iga at a time, more than that if he caught them off guard. But Hanzo he would have to face alone, the ninja lord would require all his skill and undivided attention to defeat. If he could even overpower him that was - many had tried to destroy the master assassin, none had ever succeeded. But he had an edge, the power of lightning walked by his side. Hanzo would not be able to stand against it, no matter how adept he was.
      "Are there guards?"
      "Sometimes. One or two at most. But not here, farther up along the passage."
      "Good. How will I reach Hanzo?"
      "His chambers aren't too far from here. You should find him there, if not, you'll have to lie there in ambush for him. It'll be tricky getting to his abode undetected, but I think we can do it unseen."
      "And what will you be doing while I slay your leader?"
      "I will be elsewhere. For my alibi to work, I must be visibly among my brethren while you do the deed."
      "Very well, coward. But how do I know you won't sound the alarm and have me slaughtered as well?"
      "You will just have to trust me."
      "I think not. You're turning against your own clan and you expect me to put my faith in you? Don't make me laugh. You'd better come up with a better answer than that, or I'm marching right back the way I came, Ruoh."
      "We have a deal, Galford. You do your part, and I'll do mine."

      Galford growled, but did nothing. He'd have to take a chance on Ruoh's trustworthiness, no matter how questionable it might seem. A little risk was worth the price if he got another shot at his other half.
      "All right, Ruoh, but if you double cross me, mark my words: I will reveal your part in this plot before I die. Whatever Iga I fail to slay before they overwhelm me will tear you to pieces after I'm done away with."
      "Understood, Galford. But fear not, we both shall get what we desire, without incident."
      "We shall see…"
Galford muttered, slowly drawing his blade, very carefully so that the steel wouldn't shriek. Weapon thus drawn, he gingerly strode forward, head moving back and forth, sweeping the shadows for the unknown danger his senses told him was there.
      Ruoh stealthily followed.
      Galford pulled the hood of his cloak up over his glowing eyes, so that they would not betray him. The gleaming blue light that sprung from them could be seen at a great distance. They'd be the perfect target for an arrow or throwing dagger…
      They moved in silence for a time, only the soft echoes of their passage broke the stillness. At length, they rounded a corner of moss and lichen covered granite, and beheld the end of the tunnel. The muted lights of Fortress Iga could be seen in the distance.
      Galford danced uneasily from foot to foot. His dread was growing stronger, but so was his excitement, and the palms of his hands were greasy with sweat. All of his instincts told him to retreat the way he had come, but he refused to obey.
      There was no turning back. Ruoh signaled him with his hands that they should proceed forward and then circle around the first building that stood directly ahead of them. Galford nodded his understanding.
      He started forward, and then there was a soft rustle from above. Galford had just enough time to look up and see the spidery tendrils of the net falling down upon him.
      He had been tricked!
      He snarled, blade whistling through the air to disembowel the traitor Ruoh, but it was too late. The heavy, lattice mesh covered him, and he fell to the ground trying to untangle himself.
      Then something struck him on the back of the head, hard, and the world dissolved into nothingness.


      Galford's blade met Genjuro's and white sparks burst into the air.
      His enemy cackled through bloody lips and kicked Galford in his midsection, breaking their locked swords apart and sending him reeling backwards in pain.
      Poppy ran madly about, barking wildly, looking for an opening to aid her master, but Genjuro was clever like a fox, he kept Galford between himself and the dog.
      "You're weak boy; your kind always has been. Your people have grown soft and lost the understanding of what it takes to make a real warrior." Genjuro gloated, carefully circling Galford and Poppy, keeping his back to the walls, where it was well protected. He booted the dismembered bodies of his victims out of his way as though they were no more than annoying rocks or dead tree limbs.
      Galford said nothing; he just set his jaw grimly, concentrating on readying himself for his foe's next attack. Genjuro was an extremely dangerous man under any circumstances, but his encounter with Galford's dark half had clearly driven him over the edge and wholly into the arms of insanity. And crazy meant unpredictability, which Genjuro had in spades.
      Galford remembered a drunken Haohmaru, the great samurai, confiding in him one night long ago about what he thought of Genjuro. He had been in the grips of a serious stupor:

      "You know, Genjuro is a better fighter than me, he always was. He could have been a great general, maybe even a lord, had his life taken a different path. Don't get me wrong, I'm great, way better than you, foreign boy, but Genjuro was born to wield the blade. Even Master Nicotine, rest his happy old soul; claimed he was the finest example of an untrained fighter he had ever seen when he first happened upon him. By all rights, he should have killed me a long time ago, but he can't manage it. You know why?"
      Galford had indicated that he did not.
      Haohmaru had spun an unsteady, drunken finger in a circle next to his head, a lazy grin on his grizzled face.
      "He's psycho, that's why. He can't even think coherently when he battles; he just acts and reacts, like an animal. Yeah, that's it, an animal, that's all Genjuro is anymore. A samurai is taught to fight with his mind calm like still water; Genjuro fights like he's riding a sinking boat in the middle of a typhoon.
      And let me tell you, deep down, it scares me. Just look into his eyes some time, kid, and you'll see what I mean. You look in his eyes, there's nothing there. Genjuro, or the man he used to be, is gone…gone for good, only the gods know where, and I sure don't want to find out where that place is, no-sir-ee."

      Galford stared into those eyes now, and Haoh had been right, they were devoid of any emotion, empty. Just shining, white circles with a fleck of black in their centers. Genjuro had become a puppet of the dark things that lived in his tormented and twisted mind, things he no longer had any control over whatsoever.
      Galford considered what Hanzo had told him when last they spoke. About how he had never really confronted his inner demons, but had instead suppressed them. What about Genjuro then? Had he fought his demons and lost? Or had he simply embraced them?
      In answer to his unspoken question, the crimson stained Genjuro rushed at him again, spinning his blade in impossibly fast and wild arcs that were nearly impossible to parry.
      Galford's sword rose and fell to block the first two strikes, but he just barely missed the third and a red gash opened on his left thigh.
      "Ah…sonofa…" He cried. Luckily, his armor and the rub-bhar suit he wore prevented the cut from going too deeply into the muscle.
      Genjuro drifted out of reach again, chuckling. He lifted the razor edge of his katana to his lips and licked Galford's blood from it. Then, he bent down, leering, in a predatory stance, ready to spring again at any moment.
      "Take a good look around, boy. See your future in their empty eyes." Kibagami whispered almost seductively, indicating he meant the corpses with a wave of his handless arm.
      Galford did look at them, and he became more determined than ever to stop Genjuro. If he failed, he had the sick feeling that Kibagami's murderous rampage was only just beginning. How many more innocents would fall under his blade before his blood lust was sated?
      Genjuro suddenly rushed at Galford yet again, but his sword found only empty air.
      Galford had used a ninja magick, moving faster than the eyes could follow, and had gotten behind Genjuro. It was dishonorable to attack from the rear, but he had little choice. He slashed savagely down with his blade at Genjuro's scarred backside, but the bloody ronin was too quick, he reached back with his arm/blade and expertly parried the blow without even turning his head to see where Galford was.
      Genjuro then whirled and followed through with a flying crescent slash, but again, Galford was not there, only a puff of gray smoke.
      And out of this smoke came three Galfords. Another ninja illusion he had learned from the Iga.
      A look of confusion crossed Genjuro's face momentarily, but then he simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled again.
      "One, two, or three of you, you're still going to die, foreign scum!"
      Genjuro flew into another furious cycle or whirling slashes. Galford and one of his shadow replicates blocked the attacks, but his other doppelganger wasn't fast enough, and it wavered and vanished into thin air as Kibagami's blade rent it in two.
      "Three minus one equals two, which is the real you?" Genjuro sung merrily, poised to strike again.
      His blade flashed, and the other shadow Galford was destroyed. However, Genjuro overextended himself during the strike, and Poppy, who had been waiting for just such a thing, took advantage of it. She sunk her long, white fangs into Genjuro's right calf muscles.
      Genjuro snarled, and kicked his leg savagely against the wall of the grisly butcher house, breaking the dog's grasp. Poppy fell away stunned, and it was only Galford's lightning fast parry that stopped Genjuro from cutting the animal in twain.
      "Your mutt and tricks couldn't save you, boy, and now, you're mine!"
      Galford didn't think so. He took the initiative this time and aimed low and fast at Kibagami's legs. But that was exactly what the deranged samurai wanted. Genjuro met his blade, turned it aside, and using the momentum he had created, spun around and planted a roundhouse kick solidly into Galford's face.
      He went down, his blade falling from his hand, and landed on top of a stiff and wet corpse. The flies angrily buzzed away from their meal as he struggled to rise. Genjuro ground his foot into Galford's chest and pinned him there.
      "Heh, that was fun. Bye, bye, loser!" His maniac smile widened, saliva dripping from his lips, as he raised his arm to deliver the killing blow.
      But then his arm dropped, his eyes rolled up into his skull, and Genjuro toppled over, landing heavily on top of Galford.
      "Oomph!" Genjuro's body knocked all the wind out of Galford's lungs. He struggled to break free before the demented samurai could rise again, but then Galford saw this would never happen. Genjuro was dead. A short sword was half buried in the flesh of Genjuro's back.
      Galford stared past Genjuro at the figure that was standing silently in the broken doorway.
      No. It was a young woman, and the resemblance was there, but it wasn't Nakoruru. But she looked so very much like her…yet different.
      "I don't know who you are, but thank you, you saved my life."
      The woman didn't move; she just stood there, hands clasped at her waist, staring at the ground.
      "I told you, Galford, but you wouldn't listen. You never listen. You should have killed him when you had him at your mercy. A samurai can not live with that kind of dishonor unavenged."
      Galford finally managed to push the now motionless Genjuro off of himself. A wave of revulsion crossed his face; the body was still sticky and slick with the ichors or all of those he had slain. Galford stood, favoring his uncut leg as he did so. Poppy joined him and tried to lick his wound, but that hurt too much, so he pushed her head away.
      "Say what? I thank you again, but do I know you?"
      Now she did look up, and she stared at him as if he had just insulted all of her ancestors.
      "No more jokes, Galford. I…I can't go on like this. You have to end your…lust for battle and death. If you don't…then…I'm going to leave you. I love you…but I can't live like this, Galford. Please, I beg you." And now there were tears in her eyes and she turned away from him so that he couldn't see her weep.
      Galford's heart went out to this stranger. Who was she? Then it hit him. She knew Galford all right, just not Him.
      He approached her and gently turned her around and lifted her chin so she would meet his gaze.
      "Look into my eyes." He commanded, and she obeyed.
      He saw she understood. Her eyes widened, narrowed in confusion, and then he saw understanding there.
      "You…you're not him. You're the other one…the one he went to kill, aren't you?" She gasped at last, still staring at him in wonder. The young woman reached up and cupped his cheek in one cold, little hand. He could tell she was looking for the blue glow in his eyes that wasn't there.
      My God, he thought to himself, as he stared down into her pretty face. You really almost are Nakoruru. If I dressed you up in the clothes of the Ainu, you'd pass for her twin sister. That's why the other me loves you, isn't it? He couldn't have Nakoruru, so he found himself a substitute…you.
      Her face crumbled in terror.
      "Oh no! If you're here, then it was a trick! That dirty ninja has led my beloved into a trap!" She fell to the ground and began to sob again, "Oh, Galford! Why did you not listen? Now, you are doomed…"
      Galford jumped. What ninja? What was going on? Hanzo?
      He kneeled down by the weeping woman, and tried to comfort her, but it was no use.
      "Please, you must tell me…Where did the other me go?"
      She looked up at him, her eyes red with tears and sighed.
      "What does it matter? He's probably slain by now. He went to the secret Iga fortress, looking for you, but don't ask me where it is, because I do not know. Nobody does."
      "I do."
      Her eyes suddenly became intense, boring into him, and she gripped Galford's chest strongly with her tiny fists.
      "Oh! You must take me there! Please! Even if he is dead…I must see him one more time! Please? I beg you…"
      Galford's head was spinning, but he sensed that this woman was being honest with him. Seeing her in anguish made him wince, for he saw Nakoruru there in her place, and he couldn't stand it.
      "All right. Yes. I'll take you with me there. What is your name?"
      "I am Kiko. And I thank you, with all my being, for your mercy…Galford. That is…you are Galford too…are you not?"
      "Yeah…yes I am. At least half of me anyway…"
      At last Galford could accept the truth of the words he had just spoken.
      Dammit, Hanzo. I hate it when you're always right…why can't you be wrong once in awhile? Particularly on the one occasion I really needed you to be wrong? Galford turned his head in the direction of Fortress Iga. He could just see the tip of the mountain peering above the emerald trees of the forest and the roofs of the deserted houses.
      I hope we're not too late…

Chapter 13

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