Featuring The Shaper

Guest Starring: Destine, Father Raymond O'Mallory

This occurs right after More Things In Heaven and Earth

After seeing to Angela's safe return, Shaper turned to Father O'Mallory. "Father, can you help me? The dagger… " and the Shaper applied her power to her darksuit and mail, opening them enough that he could see the wound. "My… cannot say in English … " and she said something in Japanese, "cannot heal this."

Father O'Mallory hissed as he touched the area. To the outside observer, the puncture wound had already begun healing over. But to the priest, blackness roiled from it, slowly growing.

"You should be dead. I am too tired to do anything about it without aid." He closed his eyes and then put Tango's gear in the van. "When I have recovered my strength we will look for Tango."

"Thank you, Father," and the young nukenin crawled into the van's passenger seat. Careful not to jostle herself too much, she fastened her belt and tried to think of something she could do about the wound from the priest's dagger.

They drove through the streets of New London. Kinuko could feel her strength failing. The micromachines were losing. Whenever the darkness touched one, it died, shrieking in her mind. Soon her builders joined the preservers in their attempt to keep the darkness isloated.

Kinuko was concious of the fact that they had stopped, but she couldn't gather enough curiosity to see where. Strong hands lifted her and the jarring sent another preserver to its shrieking death. Voices, male and female. But they were speaking English, and Kinuko was too tired to make the effort of translation. Slowly, Kinuko clawed her way back from the darkness. A large white cat sat on a nearby window sill, its bushy tail waved idly. It let out a loud meow when it saw her looking.

"Good, you're awake."

The speaker was a woman whom Kinuko had never seen before. White hair and blue eyes looked out of smiling face. She was wearing a large poncho. The cat stretched and leaped to the woman's shoulder. It rubbed its cheek against the woman's and gave a soft purr, then bounded off to find something else to amuse itself.

"Thank you, Pekoe." She then turned her attention to Kinuko.

Frowning, she picked up a small reddish stone, placed it at her throat, then began speaking. Kinuko blinked. It was like watching a dubbed movie. The shapes her lips were making did not correlate with the sounds. The words were Japanese, perfect, without accent, equal to equal.

"How are you feeling? Hungry? Thirsty? That was quite a wound. I almost couldn't heal it. It was as if your body resisted and then whoosh. All at once." She smiled. "I am called Destine."

"Thank you very much, Destine-sensei. I will refresh myself when I return home." It was bad enough that her friends gave her so much in return for so little; she would not take on more giri to this Western witch. She owed her enough for the healing. That the witch Destine might see that healing as nothing but the satisfying of her own giri never occurred to the little Japanese woman. Still, she was a little more at peace, having started to redeem her stained honour.

"Did you have someone you wished to call, then? I will not have you wandering around in your condition. If not, you will have to at least drink something. And I apologize, but all I have are very loose-fitting clothes that are going to be a little big on you, I think."

It was the first time that Kinuko noticed that she was naked beneath the covers that clothed her. The room itself was small and neat, with the lingering scent of incense. It reminded her of the Shinto temples of home.

"I have friends. They will help me. Please, where are my clothes and effects?" She burned to ask how this woman had removed her mail, but bit back the question, trying not to let her curiosity show.

The woman looked mildly embarassed. "Well, your clothes are in some other dimension, a present for, ah, some assistantance in, hmm, getting them off you. I needed to get as close to your natural state as possible. The healing wasn't having any effect otherwise. I have a few things that will have to be adjusted for length but should fit."

"I can adjust them; thank you very much for your aid. But I must know: where are my tools and weapons?"

Destiny stood up and rummaged in a closet. She pulled out a pair of jogging pants and a loose fitting blouse. She also handed Kinuko the telephone.

"I am afraid I had to use them as trade to aid in your healing."

Pulling on the pants and blouse, Kinuko placed her hands on them, re-tailoring them to suit her height and build, then dialed the Edo residence of Mendo Genji. At this hour he would most likely be at work, but surely some other member of the family — or at least one of the servants — would be there.

After a conversation with Mendo Genji himself, Kinuko polietly thanked the woman again and prepared to be picked up.

"We work on the favor system in New London Circles, Kinuko-san. I am sure someday, that I will run into a problem in which I need your assistance. Good day. Oh, one more thing. Raymond was unable to tell me what happened to the weapon that wounded you. You don't happen to know where it went, do you?"

Oh no… thought the young nukenin. It vanished with Tango and the priest and the other man.

"I cannot say; when last I saw it, it was in the hands of our ally." The thought of such a powerful and dangerous weapon loose in this city was enough to make her feel faint. She would have to find it and if possible destroy it. "But if I can find it, I wil see that it is destroyed. It is too evil and dangerous to be left at large."