A Red Sun and a Pale Moon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A Samurai 7 story, concerning my own character, Hidatsa, and her struggle for true freedom while she assists in the battle of Kanna vs. the Nobuseri. She is haunted by her past, her dreams, and the silent red warrior, whom she does not trust.

The first chapter. I'd love some reviews, and insights as to where you'd like the story to go.

Submitted: June 30, 2010

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Submitted: June 30, 2010

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Chapter One



Hidatsa would have been the first person to admit she didn't work well with other people. It just wasn't in her nature to depend on someone else, and that's exactly the way she liked it. So doing, if something went wrong, the only one to blame was herself. It was a straightforward way of living, and worked well for her, right up until the day she met the farmers from Kanna Village

She supposed it was more than outrage and a strong sense of what was right that made her accept the offer of rice as payment in return for protecting the village, but she couldn't fathom what that might be. After all, it wasn't like she didn't have troubles of her own.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Gorobei asked her. She never could say no to him, even when he'd made her mad.

“What are you looking at, little waif?” asked the man himself, Gorobei. He'd come to sit next to her as she looked out over the great jagged mountains and deep valleys below. She hadn't even heard him coming, but wasn't surprised at his appearance. He'd always known when something was bothering her. It was one of his strange little gifts; reading her like a book.

“I'm looking at our future, old man,” she answered, softly, so the others sitting a way off couldn't hear.”And I'm afraid that what I see in it is treachery.”

The jokester only laughed at her serious mood and pretended to pull a small flower from behind her ear. With a flourish he handed it to her, saying; “I love you dearly little one, and you still surprise me every day with your talents, even after seven years. But I don't think fortune-telling is one of your endowments.”

With a small smile she accepted the flower, and pressed it to her nose. It was a lotus blossom. Who knew where he'd gotten it out here in the middle of nowhere, miles from any greenery. But she'd learned a long time ago not to ask Gorobei how he did his magic tricks.

“I don't need to be second-sighted to know that man is not to be trusted.” she said. Gorobei knew perfectly well who 'that man' was, but didn't say a word. With a glance over her shoulder Hidatsa could see him, the former Merchant bodyguard, Kyuzo. Like them, he was sitting a way off from the rest of the group. Observing. Calculating. Evaluating.

“If you don't trust my instincts, then at least trust the water-priestess's. She says he's our enemy, that should be enough for us.” as she warmed to her speech Hidatsa felt her cheeks flush, and knew it made her look even more like a child, which only worsened it. “Why should we trust him when we know the only reason he's coming with us is to resume his duel with Kanbei?”

“Hmm …” mused Gorobei, thoughtfully rubbing his chin. “I don't think you should be so quick to judge. Or be quite so pessimistic. He may yet be reliable. We've already seen what he's prepared to do for our cause. Give him a chance, and he may surprise you.”

Hidatsa knew Gorobei well enough to know there was no way she was going to convince him. Though you wouldn't say it by looking at him, he could be as stubborn as a mule. With a sigh of resignation Hidatsa stood and cinched the belt of her robe tighter around her waist.

“I don't want to be a pessimist,” she said. “The last thing I wish is him as an enemy. But a tiny voice in the back of my mind keeps whispering; 'Don't trust him, he's dangerous,' and it's very hard to ignore. But I respect Kanbei, and I'll follow where he leads. If that happens to be into the waiting blades of Kyuzo, well, that's where I'll go too.”

Gorobei stood too, and looked affectionately down at his smaller friend. “You've changed since we last parted company, Sa-sa.”

The use of his old pet name for her worked miraculously well to lift Hidatsa's spirits. It brought old memories to the fore, and put a smile on her face. Her time with Gorobei, however brief, was something she recalled with fondness. At the tender age of fifteen she'd abandoned her entire way of life and joined a group of travelling entertainers. Using the skills she'd learned as a ninja, she fit in well with them, performing as a aerialist and tightrope walker. From the very start she and Gorobei saw the other for what they were, and, instead of becoming enemies, they formed a strong friendship. The ninja and the samurai. An odd couple, but together they executed some of the most breathtaking feats of balance and precision. They left the audience stunned and screaming for more every night. That was a good period in her life, and she missed it dearly. But all too quickly things changed, and she left..

“I've grown up, Gorobei.” she said, absent-mindedly working her hand up under the red scarf around her neck and rubbing the scar it covered.

With a silent look filled with sympathy Gorobei conveyed what he couldn't adequately express in words. Hidatsa understood, and loved him for it.

When they reunited a few days ago, it was by sheer chance. They hadn't seen each other for two years, and immediately took up where they'd left off. It was almost like they'd never been parted. But still, in the back of her mind, Hidatsa was unable to relax.

The bounty on her was large, bordering on the ridiculous. Her former masters were desperate to have her either silenced, or brought in to join them again. She'd had to keep constantly on the move, never staying in one place longer than a week, pretending to be a low-level street worker and dancing for coins. It was a difficult way of life, but at least she had some measure of freedom.

“Have you paid back the man who gave you that scar?” he asked, looking deep into the green depths of her eyes.

“No.” she said quietly, but with a fierce anger. “But he's coming closer, I feel it. I'll get my chance soon enough.”

“Hey, you two done admiring the view?” called Heihachi from where he was standing next to the other samurai and the three farmers. They all looked ready to go.

Yes. I'm ready too, she thought. Ready to finally do something good with the skills I've been given. Something to be proud of.



Chapter Two



“A three way split?” Gorobei questioned. “That's a bold move, old man.”

“Big groups attract attention. We'll have a better shot this way.” said Heihachi.

“That's my hope.” said Kanbei, rubbing thoughtfully at his beard. “The Nobuseri know too much about us now. We must play against their expectation however we can. Now, we need a rally point near the village. Any suggestions?”

“There's Wing Rock, on the way to the bridge.” offered Kirara.

“Wing Rock?” asked Katsushiro.

“It's an old boulder that's been weathered down into the shape of a wing. It's impossible to miss.”

Komachi jumped excitedly up and down on Kikuchiyo's shoulder, squeaking; “When me and my friends go play, that's our secret base.”

“Well, that settles it then.” decided Kanbei.

“So, how should we split up?” asked Shichiroji.

“One farmer per group. They know the land and can guide us. Two samurai go with each. Katsushiro, you're with me.”

“Yes, sensei.”

“I'll stay with Kirara.” said Hidatsa.

With a wide grin, Gorobei said; “Great, I'll take the wood-chopper.”

“That'll work.” declared Shichiroji.

“Then it's decided. We'll walk three paths and converge near the village soon. Fortune be with you all.” said Kanbei.

“Wait, you forgot me! Who do I go with?” asked Kikuchiyo, a small whiff of angry steam blasting out of his helmet.

“That is not my concern.” said Kanbei, turning his back on the robot samurai.

“Oh, I see! Fine then, I'll just go wherever I want!” With a loud grumble Kikuchiyo lifted Komachi off his broad shoulders, set her on the ground, and started off down the path by himself.

The rest of the group seemed unconcerned with his departure, and split into their respective groups. Before long, they were all well on their way, and quickly lost sight of each other.


~ :: ~


Hidatsa was relieved she was in the same group as Kyuzo. It felt almost like it was her duty to keep an eye on him. Whether he was to be trusted or not, she was uncomfortable when he wasn't within her line of vision. Up until the moment they parted company with Kanbei and his group, she'd half expected Kyuzo to disregard his earlier promise to hold a temporary truce, and launch himself at the older man.

But the four of them – Hidatsa, Kyuzo, Shichiroji and Kirara – were well and truly on their way now, and deep within the claustrophobic confines of the canyon walls. The path they were walking down was wide, over seven feet, but rough, and pitted with jagged rocks and deep potholes. On one side was the high vertical wall of the cliff-face, and on the other, a drop of more than two-hundred feet. Due to the high altitude the harsh wind whipped violently at their garments, biting deep into any uncovered flesh.

The women were particularly vulnerable to it's chill, as they were the most exposed. Hidatsa preferred simple clothing, and avoided anything that could constrict her movements. So the short, dark-grey robe she wore was sleeveless, and had two long slits on either sides up to her hips, to allow her legs free motion. It was bound by a simple tie at her waist. On her feet were soft soled knee length boots of black leather, perfect for a silent approach on any terrain. Around her neck, as always, was a bright red scarf, which was at the moment protecting her face and hair, as well as her scar.

Kirara was walking with her crystal in hand, searching for the way forward. After a while she said; “My divining instinct was right. This underground waterway will lead us all the way back to Kanna.”

Shichiroji, who was walking beside Kirara, nodded his approval and called up ahead; “Kyuzo, why don't you slow down a little. We've got ladies with us.”

Kyuzo obliged, waiting in stoic silence for them to catch up.

Hidatsa knew Shichiroji was only asking the other samurai to slow down for Kirara's sake, so she didn't take offence at the implication that she also couldn't keep abreast with them. But Kirara obviously did, because she quickened her pace and said, rather politely; “I don't need consideration, great samurai. I am capable of keeping up.”

Bringing up the rear of the group, Hidatsa smiled at the spunk of the farm-girl, standing up so strongly to the samurai. Not many people would.

Personally, Hidatsa was slightly uneasy. She didn't like being so revealed, with few routes of escape. The espionage training bored into her from the age of four told her they were too open, too vulnerable to attack. She preferred to move unseen, and observe from the shadows. She said as much to Shichiroji, who agreed, and told her that maybe it was a good idea if she scouted ahead, and checked for signs of the enemy.

“Yes.” she said. “I'll reconnoitre around a bit, and meet up with you later.”

“Good luck.”

“You too,” she said, glancing pointedly toward the red-clad samurai. He caught her meaning, and nodded.

With the familiar exhilaration she always got when using her skills, Hidatsa lightly sprang up the steep slope of the canyon wall, climbing it like it was nothing more than a small hill. She made no sound, and left no trace. Halfway up, about fifty feet from the roadway, there was a narrow ledge running parallel with the path, and she raced easily along it. It offered a better view of the area around them, which still seemed deserted. Within seconds she was far ahead, and lost sight of her companions. They were still continuing on at a leisurely pace, so as to avoid any unwanted suspicion if someone should happen upon them.

Up here, the wind was even stronger, and tried in vain to pull her off her feet. But she was in her element here, high up off the floor, relying on quick steps and perfect balance to keep her safe. She loved it. The rush of fear damped all distractions, leaving her mind free to concentrate on only the task at hand.

She climbed for hours, searching ahead, weaving her way over and alongside the mountainsides, always watching, alert, ready to attack at any sign of movement. A few times she doubled back, checking to make sure the others were still all right. Each time she gave them the all clear sign from up above, and received one in return. It was tiring work, but Hidatsa knew, if she didn't do it, she'd never be able to relax. She'd always be checking over her shoulder, wondering if there was someone just around the next bend, or hiding in a small cleft in the mountain, just waiting to spring. So she ignored the increasing weariness in her limbs, and continued on.

By late afternoon she reached the first fork in the road. One was partially blocked by fallen boulders, but it did widen out a little further on. The other was clear. She couldn't tell which one would lead to Kanna, so she decided it would be a good place to take a break and wait for the others to arrive. Kirara would know which route to take. And anyway, she needed a rest. The edges of her vision were staring to cloud, one of the first signs of exhaustion.

With a weary sigh she sank down onto a boulder near the intersection. With her back up against a wall, she was well hidden in the lengthening shadows. Unless they knew she was there, no one would be able to see her.

She'd always had trouble knowing when to stop, and consequently sometimes continued on past her limit. In her twenty-two years of life numerous people had told her she was too tenacious for her own good, and at the moment she had to agree with them. Cursing herself for her stupidity, she rested her head on her knees and took several deep breaths, waiting for the fogginess in her eyes to subside. She should have taken a break hours ago. Now she was vulnerable to attack, and unable to function at full strength. If her old master, Cochin, was here, he'd give her a smart rap across the back of the head and tell her there was no room in a ninja's vocabulary for the word 'defenceless'.

“How disappointing,” The cold tip of a blade against the back of Hidatsa's bowed neck kept her from looking up, but she knew perfectly well who it was. His cruel voice was as familiar as her own. She heard it every time she closed her eyes, every time she allowed her mind to wander. It haunted her dreams, and darkened her waking hours with images of blood.

“I thought you knew better than to let your guard down, even with your new found partnerships with the samurai.”

“Just listen to you talking so big, Marlin,” she said, using all her self control to keep the fear bubbling like bile in her chest out of her voice. “You'd almost think I was already dead on the ground. Aren't you being a little premature?”

He laughed, a dry, chilling, nauseating sound. It scared her even more than the blade pressed against her neck.



Chapter Three



In the seven years Marlin Cretes – the most skilled bounty-hunter in the entire country – had been after her, they'd had several confrontations. These meetings always resulted in violence and some sort of injury, for him, or more commonly, for her.

Hidatsa imagined he was becoming desperate. In the beginning, he'd tried to collect the larger reward by bringing her in alive and unhurt. But as the time went by and he was unable to come any closer to seizing her, he developed a certain disregard for her well-being.

No other man – not even cruel old Cochin – had ever hurt her like Marlin had. When she was sixteen he'd thrown her off a three story building, and then again two years later he'd broken her arm, and stepped on her thorax till she could hear her own bones cracking, all the while grinning at her like a maniac. For that was what he was – a maniac.

The sadistic sexual pleasure he derived from hurting her reached it's peak almost exactly one year ago, when, in the middle of a violent thunderstorm, he finally caught up with her again. She'd been wearing one of her best disguises and working as a freelance messenger boy. Her already modest chest was strapped flat, a pair of loose fitting breeches easily hid her gently curved hips, and her long, scarlet hair was tied up in a braid and covered with a wide-brimmed hat. But apparently it wasn't good enough.

She never heard him coming over the insistent pounding of raindrops on the roof of the stables where she spent her nights. In the heavy darkness, as she lay peacefully in a prickly bed of straw, she was ripped out of sleep by a sudden and crushing weight on her chest as the brute jumped her.

He gripped both her wrists above her head in one of his huge paws, easily overpowering her with his superior position on top, straddling her. His breathing was furious as he leaned forward and kissed her, but she bit his lips till she tasted blood and tried to scream.

“I'd shut that pretty little mouth if I was you,” he growled. She froze when she felt the tell-tale prick of steel against the hollow of her throat. “You're gonna to do exactly as I say. D'you understand, bitch? You're gonna make it up to me for all these years of running, and then we'll return to the Capital. The Krell will be very pleased to have you back, and I'll finally get my money. This will all end well, and we can go on with our lives. Now, doesn't that sound like a good plan?”

Even today, with all her wounds healed, her mind shied away from the pain and memories of that night. The events were jumbled and blurred, yet still haunted her when she least expected. The nightmares were just as frequent as at the very beginning, and, if anything, more disturbing.

When he started cutting at her clothes, she went completely crazy. She didn't want to die, but to her, rape was worse than death. Though she wasn't a virgin, her innocence was whole, and no matter what happened, she would not let him tear that away from her just to satisfy his sick hungers.

The blade was sharp, and when she struggled, it bit deep into her skin. Her breasts, her belly, the inside of her thighs, they were all severely rent in the scramble. She wasn't screaming now, only concentrating all her strength on getting out from under him and away. The cuts didn't even hurt yet.

Through some miracle she got her hands free and made a double fist, using it like a ram to smash his nose. Only her aim was off, and instead of driving the ridge-bone up into his brain and killing him instantly, it only smashed flat. Like an angry bull he shook off the pain and kept right on slashing and undressing her, not even bothering to try and restrain her hands any more.

“You like the pain, don't you, kitty? So do I!”

The knife was at her neck again, but she didn't care. She felt it sink into her throat when she bucked violently upwards, and managed to get one of her legs free from his heavy bulk.

Marlin grunted and gasped as she awkwardly used her dislodged foot to kick him savagely in the balls. His grip on the dagger weakened and she made a grab for it. Like a demented woman she grasped it by the sharp edge and pulled it free from his hand.

Although all she wanted to do was drive the blade up into one of his eyes, she wavered. It would only be her second kill. For the barest fraction of a second she considered what to do.

Then with all the force she could muster she raised her arm and brought it squarely down between his shoulder-blades. As he reared over backwards, a guttural roar of pain and anger issued from his lips.
Finally released from his weight, she rolled to the side and staggered to her feet. She was off and running before he'd even pulled the dirk from his back.

Hidatsa never knew how far she ran through the rain-slicked streets before collapsing. The faint image of a pair of soft brown eyes and calloused hands was all she remembered further. Four days later she awoke in the home of a kind, middle-aged couple. They told her they'd found her half naked in a alley, bleeding from more than half a dozen serious cuts. Apparently, she'd asked them to hide her before passing out.

They were caring and understanding, and didn't ask many questions. The woman was a seamstress, and stitched up her wounds as best she could. But time was already ticking forward again, and she didn't want to put those generous people in any more unnecessary danger. By the sixth day, she was on the road again.

Running. It seemed that was all she was ever doing since she'd left the Capital. Her reason for fleeing in the first place was for freedom. However, now, it was the one thing furthest from her reach.


~ :: ~


He knew exactly where she hid her weapons, even the garotte tied around her left boot and the tiny bodkins in her hair.

“You know, Hidatsa,” he said as he threw them all into the canyon. “I've been watching you the entire day, waiting for you to stop for a rest and let your guard down, just for a minute. You've got some stamina, girl, I'll give you that. I'd admire you if you weren't so bloody stupid.”

“Charming as always,” Hidatsa said, gritting her teeth to keep them from chattering in fright. I've felt worse, she insisted. This is nothing.

“But hey, everyone slips up sometime or other, right?” the tall bounty hunter continued. “I guess it was just your time.”

Even if the last thing she wanted was to involve the samurai in her affairs, her clearest route of escape was to stall him until they reached the crossroads. On her last scouting, they were no more than two miles away. If she could distract Marlin long enough for him to forget they had a limited amount of time, she may yet have a chance.

“Fuck you, Marlin” she muttered, risking raising her eyes to meet his. He allowed her some leeway with the sword, but didn't let up his guard. “If I remember correctly, you were the one who slipped up last time. How's the back? A little stiff?”

With a force so sudden it stalled the air in her lungs, Marlin jerked her to her feet and rammed her against the cliff-face, pinning her arms above her head. Her feet left the ground, and he took advantage of that by parting her legs with his knees. His pressed his face right up against hers. “I've been thinking about that night … the feel of you squirming against me … and the red of your hair mixing in perfectly with the blood … Ohh … I loved it. he whispered on her cheek, grinding his hips against hers, making her all too aware of his rampant arousal. “That last time … we left some unfinished business. Maybe today you'll be a little smarter and cooperate. We wouldn't want to add another mark to that pretty little neck of yours, would we?”

Telling herself to stay calm, not to panic, Hidatsa slowed her breathing. There was no point in letting her emotions overwhelm her now. She'd be quiet, and not resist too much. If she fought him too vigorously now, she was sure he wouldn't make the mistake of letting her live twice.

It was one of the hardest things she'd ever had to do, letting him touch her like that without even protesting. It reminded her so strongly of their position one year ago, with her arms trapped above her head, helpless.

Marlin shoved his free hand under the hem of her robe and roughly squeezed her hips and thighs. He gave a shuddering, breathless chuckle when she involuntarily writhed under his bruising fingers.

Just ignore it. Don't think, don't feel. Just wait. You'll be fine.

She was watching the road over Marlin's shoulder. It was empty now, but she could have sworn she saw a quick flash of movement.

Marlin was running his fingers along the edge of her panties, teasing himself, totally oblivious to the rest of the world. She was amazed he was being so stupid. Had he really forgotten Shichiroji and Kyuzo was on their way here?

Another flicker of colour over to the left, closer than the first. It was definitively coming towards her, maybe a hundred meters off now.

Yes! It was Kyuzo. One of his katanas was drawn as he made his way swiftly down the dirt track, no longer bothering to hide. Hidatsa hoped with all her heart he'd realize she was in trouble, not just having a shag with some guy she'd just met on the road.

She never saw Kyuzo closing the final gap. Before she knew what was happening her hands were free and she dropped clumsily to the ground. Marlin yelled and sprang to the side, pulling his own sword from it's scabbard at his side. He feigned a slash at Kyuzo, who jumped easily back out of his reach.

Nothing could have prepared Hidatsa for what came next.

Instead of continuing his battle with Kyuzo, Marlin turned, reached for her and grabbed her by the arm. She pulled and kicked furiously at any part of his body she could reach, but in vain.

With a grunt of effort, he tossed her off the nearby cliff-edge.



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