THE BEAST WITHIN
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2, Darkstalkers, Hellsing and all other characters mentioned belong to their respective creators so I hope you won’t bother me with some silly lawsuits.
< >: Thoughts
[ ]: Spoken in Mandarin/Cantonese
Back to China
Nabiki gazed upon her image as she stood naked in front of the mirror. She did a slow turn as she took in every detail of her new she-wolf body, which was like a cross between a showgirl and a power-lifter’s. She was now slightly taller than Matthew in his human form. She had practiced Yoga in the past to keep fit, but now she had more sensuous curves in her hips and thighs. Though she was also more muscular, this only added to her sexuality as she emitted an exotic aura. Every part of her body was well-toned and firm, especially in her buttocks. Her fur was silken in texture and her pointed ears gave her a kind of mischievous appearance. Her tail swayed gently behind her. She looked down at her hands and noted that they now sported very sharp claws, but her fingers were slender and graceful. Then she gazed down at her bosom and made a note to go shopping for some new bras. Her enlarged breasts were at least a 34C, maybe even a D! As she shook her chest slightly, she noticed that her breasts jiggled, but they didn’t sag. Rather they protruded out very proudly.
The middle Tendo daughter had to admit... she looked HOT!
Now the main question was, how was she going to explain this to her family?
In the living room, Jon and his son continued to discuss about what to do about Nabiki’s unplanned transformation.
“Son, if you had just obeyed my orders and went straight home, then we could have avoided this!”
“But Dad! Nabiki followed me!” Matthew protested.
“Which she wouldn’t have done if you had not followed me.” Jon pointed out sternly, then he let off a tired sigh. “I suppose that arguing over who is to blame is pointless now. We can’t change what is already done. We have no choice now. Nabiki will have to stay with us for a while, at least until she is able to cope with her lycanthropy.”
Jon Talbain in his human form, knocked lightly on the guestroom door and asked if he could enter. With Nabiki’s assent, he opened the door and went inside. He saw that his guest was now wearing some of his son’s clothes, since her own were ragged and too tight for her now. She was clad in a pair of dark slacks and a blue T-shirt. Her new tail hung over the loose waistband.
“How are you feeling, Miss Tendo?”
Soun’s daughter nodded as she replied. “I’m fine... all things considered. You can call me Nabiki, Mr. Talbain.”
“Very well Nabiki.”
She looked down at herself for a long moment, then addressed him. “I can’t believe that I was just dying a few hours ago and now I’m...”
“Fanged and furry.” Jon finished for her. “I must admit, you are taking all of this rather well.”
Nabiki shrugged her shoulders slightly. “I know Matthew did it to save me, and... well...”
“I know that it’s a lot to get used to. You’ll find that you now possess abilities and senses that far exceed any that you had before.” Talbain produced a small, metal object from his back pants pocket. Nabiki recognized the instrument.
“A dog whistle?”
Jon nodded as he put the whistle to his mouth and blew on it. Immediately Nabiki covered her ears and winced as she heard a high-pitched whine. Then Matthew’s father stopped blowing and nodded. “Normally, you wouldn’t have been able to hear this.”
“Ow!” She rubbed her ears a bit. “Is THAT what a dog whistle sounds like?”
“Now you know why dogs answer the call. It’s so they don’t have to hear it again.” He put away the instrument. “Your sense of hearing can now pick up sounds that a normal human can’t. Your other senses are magnified too, and you’ll discover many other abilities as well. My son and I will fill you in on the details during our trip.”
“Yes. I received a message from an old friend of mine in China and we are leaving in two days. Since we can’t leave you behind in your current... condition, I thought that it would be best that you accompany us.”
“Unless you WANT to go back to your family as you are now?”
Nabiki stopped short at that question. Matthew’s father raised a good point. She couldn’t even begin to think of how to explain to her family and friends that she was now a werewolf. She could just imagine her father bawling his eyes out, lamenting that his daughter had become a monster. However, she couldn’t just up and leave so suddenly.
Jon noted the hesitancy in her expression. “Don’t worry Nabiki. I’ll take care of all the details with your family and the school. I’m certain that they won’t mind if you leave for a few days or so.”
“But, I can’t just up and leave like this. Can’t I just change back? I mean, Matthew can become human, so couldn’t I do the same?”
“No, you can’t.”
Jon took a deep breath, then started to explain. “I assume that my son told you that if a werewolf bites someone, then that person becomes a weaker version of the original?”
“Matthew and I are natural-born werewolves. What we have is what is called Primary or True Lycanthropy. This allows us to shift back and forth between forms.” He briefly demonstrated by assuming his hybrid form, then became human. “What you have is Secondary Lycanthropy. Right now, you’re locked in hybrid form. As a result, you can’t change back. And you must admit, that it would be difficult for you to go back home and attend school as you are now.”
“So I’m trapped in this form?” Nabiki asked with some fear in her tone. Sure, being an exotic she-wolf had its appeal, but she didn’t want to stay like this forever.
“Not to worry, Nabiki.” Jon assured. “We do have some means to temporarily hide your appearance until we can come up with a more lasting solution. In the meantime, we’re going to have to train you in controlling your new abilities.”
“I’m sorry Nabiki, but it has to be this way. You can think of this as a kind of training journey. Your father being a martial artist, would understand.” <Though from what I heard, he’s not a very good martial artist.> Jon added mentally as he had been informed by Matthew that Soun Tendo owned a dojo, but hasn’t had any students for well over ten years and was deep in debt. What kind of martial artist would let his dojo fall into such a state? According to what his son had told him, the Tendo patriarch didn’t even have a proper heir to carry on his family’s fighting style. Akane’s skills were sloppy and unrefined. It was obvious that Soun had not trained her very much or very hard. It looked like Akane’s father had pinned all of his hopes on uniting the Anything Goes Schools, in order to ensure the dojo’s future. Good luck with that, considering that Genma’s son ‘Ranma’ wasn’t even his true son.
And even if Matthew was found out to be the real Ranma, it still wouldn’t matter since he was not obligated to fulfill that pledge. He was Jon’s son and a simple blood test would prove it.
Jon tabled his thoughts for later. Nabiki tried to protest further, but
Matthew’s father would not take no for an answer.
Two days later...
Nabiki couldn’t believe it as she looked out the window and gazed upon the Sea of Japan, as the private jet flew toward the China coastline. Sitting beside her was Matthew and in front of her was his father. This was the first time she had ever traveled abroad and she was more than excited to be visiting a foreign country. She then looked down at the wolf-head pendant she was now wearing.
As he had promised, Jon had provided her with the means to keep her new form temporarily hidden. The enchantment on the necklace kept her in her human form, but it could only do so for five hours. She had been wearing it, when she, Matthew and Jon had went to visit her family and explain to them that she would be accompanying them. He had also called Furinken High and got permission from the School Board to give his son and Nabiki a leave of absence.
At first, Nabiki’s father protested, but with a little persuasion, (Matthew’s father could be quite persuasive), and a very sizeable addition to the family’s bank accounts, it didn’t take long for Soun to agree. This of course had Genma jumping for joy as he entertained thoughts of how to spend the money. Nabiki’s father was also pleased to hear that his other daughter was taking an interest in the Art.
Kasumi gave her sibling a fond farewell and hoped that she would return soon. As for Akane, she feigned indifference, though Nabiki knew that her younger sister was jealous that she wasn’t going along to train and travel. Of course, she scowled at Matthew’s presence, and warned Nabiki not to let that pervert get too close.
Nabiki came out of her reverie when the pilot announced that they would be landing in Beijing in two hours.
Matthew looked over to her and asked, “Is everything all right, Nabs?”
“Everything is fine.” She replied. “Though I’m still a bit overwhelmed by what’s happened in the last few days.”
“Oh... well, okay.” He started to feel awkward as he was still feeling guilty about turning her into a lycanthrope. He then changed the subject. “Oh, Nabs. I have to tell you that when we get to the Amazon village, you really got to be careful about what you say and do. The Joketsuzoku are a very proud people and anything that they interpret as a threat or an insult, will be taken very seriously.”
“Okay, so if I mind my own business and don’t pick any fights, then I’ll be fine, right?” An image of Akane came to mind, and she could just see her short-tempered sister getting into trouble within five minutes of meeting the Amazons. According to what Matthew had told her about the warrior women, Akane wouldn’t last a minute if she started on her ‘I’m a martial artist’ attitude.
“Yes.” Matt nodded, then added, “Oh, and don’t let on that you’re a werewolf now, and that I bit you. I’ll never get any peace if THAT gets out.” He shuddered at the thought of Shampoo and the other Amazons nagging and begging him to turn them into lycanthropes, once it got out that Nabiki had gotten bit without losing her humanity. They might get the idea that it would be safe for them to be infected with Secondary Lycanthropy.
A day later in a clothing store in Beijing...
“What do you think?” Nabiki asked as she posed in front of Matthew in a form-fitting Chinese silk dress. The garment was a light, pale blue, and molded well to her figure. It was a short-sleeved version of the traditional dress worn by the women of Beijing, and had a long slit that ran up the length of her right leg, and stopped halfway up her thigh, (think Chun Li from Street Fighter). The front of the dress had a golden dragon pattern etched on it. Currently, the two were located in a private area of the store.
“It looks good on you, Nabs.” The young werewolf admitted. “But weren’t we supposed to get more suitable clothes for the trip into the Quing Hai Province? I mean, that dress isn’t going to hold up in the Bayankala Mountain Range.”
“Oh please! Can’t I have just ONE dress? I’ve always wanted to have one of these!” Nabiki put on her cutest pout, making it hard for Matt to resist. After all, she would never get another chance to do this kind of foreign shopping, especially with Jon footing the bill for their trip. “And I promised Kasumi that I’d get her some Oolong Tea. Daddy wants some cigarettes and rice wine, and Mr. Saotome wants some kind of Miracle Grow Hair Shampoo. I think he said it was Formula 247.”
Jon Talbain’s son sighed and then nodded. “Okay. I guess a few souvenirs wouldn’t hurt.” <Although I doubt that anything could make hair grow on that bald wasteland of Pop’s> He mentally added. “Just don’t take too much stuff that isn’t essential. We’re going to be traveling light. Either buy some small souvenirs or wait until after our business is finished with the Amazons to do some shopping for yourself and your family.” He then heard a small beeping and looked down at his wristwatch. “It’s time.”
Kasumi and Akane’s sister let off a sigh as she reached down to her backpack and took out another wolf’s head pendant. She put it on, then removed the one she was wearing. “It’s such a bother to have to switch these things every five hours.” She then stored the first necklace into her pack.
“You know that the enchantment only lasts for five hours, then needs to recharge itself for five hours. It’s a good thing that Dad had two of these pendants available so you can exchange them and keep yourself from... bursting out of your clothes.”
He blushed when he thought back to that time after they had left the airport. Nabiki had not exchanged her pendants fast enough and transformed into her lycanthrope form, ripping her clothes to shreds. Matthew got a nosebleed after seeing her scantily-clad, exotic she-wolf body, then almost fainted when she hastily put on the second pendant. Suddenly shrinking back down to her human body had caused what was left of her garb to fall off, leaving her naked.
Shaking his head to clear those thoughts, he added, “Oh, and keep out of sight during the nights of a full moon. Those pendants won’t be able to stop you from transforming, since your powers will be at their peak. Now let’s get some traveling clothes for you.”
A day later...
“Shei shei.” (1) Jon said as he thanked the shopkeeper, then stowed away his purchases into his pack. He motioned for his son and their guest to follow as he led them toward the outskirts of the small town. From there until they reached Jusenkyo and the Joketsuzoku, they would be roughing it through the wilderness.
Nabiki was a bit awed at the rugged terrain, since she had spent all of her life in Tokyo. For some strange reason, being in the wild made her excited, rather than fearful. The sights, the sounds and especially the smells, stimulated her in ways she never knew. Furthermore, it was a lot easier than she thought. Though she was carrying a backpack that weighed at least a hundred and fifty pounds, it felt as if she was toting an empty plastic bag. Her endurance was phenomenal and she did not feel the least bit tired, despite having walked over fifty miles without rest or complaint.
During the initial stages of their journey, Jon and Matthew noticed the changes in their traveling companion. Despite being suppressed by the pendant, a large amount of her werewolf abilities was still bleeding over into her human body, making her physically stronger and with more acute senses. She was occasionally sniffing about, catching the various and subtle differences in odors. Her ears twitched every now and then, picking up the faintest sounds, even when they were several dozen yards away. At times, she was almost overwhelmed by the flood of stimuli that her surroundings caused.
Matthew’s father made a note to begin her training as soon as possible. She needed to learn some measure of control before they reached the Amazons.
A few days later...
“Nice.” Matthew commented as Nabiki easily jumped twenty feet up to the rocky ledge that he was standing on.
His girlfriend looked down in surprise at the place she had been a second ago. “I did that?” She had not even thought about it when she had hopped up from a standing position. Her violent sister Akane was still unable to clear three feet. Mr. Saotome and his ‘son’ were able to leap up to thirty feet, but they had been training for years and even then they could only jump like that with some effort. Nabiki had only begun her training in the Talbain Wolf-Fist style only three days ago. Was she already stronger than her sibling and catching up with the Saotomes?
Matthew nodded. “Yeah, you did that. Nice thing about being a werewolf. Even in your human form, a lot of that power transfers over. But you landed without any problems. Even I didn’t do that, during the first few days of my training. Dad says that you’re a natural, and you’re picking up fast on the basics of our family’s style. How come you never trained in the Anything Goes?”
Nabiki shrugged. “I guess I was too busy keeping my family from ending up on the streets. When Akane started training, I decided to let her become the heir to the Tendo Anything Goes.”
“If you ask me, your father should have trained you, not her.” Matthew
commented, causing her to blush slightly.
In comparison, Nabiki had more of the innate qualities than her sister to pursue the martial arts. She had learned early of the benefits of keeping one’s cool and mental control. Akane tended to let her anger and pride get the better of her. Nabiki planned ahead and looked at the big picture. Akane charged recklessly and never considered consequences. The middle sister showed signs of early maturity and discipline. The youngest sister still let her emotions run rampant and threw tantrums.
Then again, when you had a whining crybaby like Soun Tendo as a sensei, one couldn’t expect anything different. An incompetent master would yield an equally incompetent student. It may be just as well that Nabiki was learning from Matt’s father. He knew from experience that Jon was a hard taskmaster, but he was fair and focused on bringing out the best in his disciples. In the last few days, he had drilled her constantly, and often she would collapse from exhaustion, despite her increase in strength and endurance.
“Hurry up you two!” Jon called to them as he was well ahead of them. “We’re going to clear this part of the mountains by lunch!”
The pair nodded as they started to pick up the pace.
Back in Tokyo...
Meanwhile, a certain samurai spirit began to stir as Paladin Anderson was entering the final phase of his cellular regeneration. And even his superiors did not know of the potential danger as they waited for their weapon against the vampires was being resurrected. Unlike before, Anderson was not going to just destroy the undead, but everything he saw would be his target. The essence of Bishamon did not discriminate between good, evil or indifferent.
In the village of the Amazons...
[“So the Talbains will be here soon, Great-Grandmother?”] Shampoo asked.
[“Yes child.”] The elderly Amazon replied. [“I received a letter from Matthew’s father several days ago. He expects to arrive at Jusenkyo within a week from now.”]
[“I can’t wait to see Matthew again! I’m sure he’ll bite me this time!”]
[“Don’t get your hopes up, Shampoo.”] Cologne warned. [“His father told me that they were adamant against spreading their lycanthropy. Although I wouldn’t mind if you and a few of our best warriors were to gain some of their power, he did warn us that those who are bitten might become savage and uncontrollable.”] <And I would definitely not mind if Matthew became my son-in-law.> She added silently. [“The Talbains are coming to help us with our ghost problem.”]
[“They are staying afterwards, right? Maybe I can get Matthew to... you know?”]
[“Perhaps.”] Cologne agreed.
“So why are we going to this Amazon village?” Nabiki asked Jon as they made their way through a forested area of the Bayankala Mountains.
The older werewolf nodded as he answered. “One of the Elders contacted me. Apparently her village is having problems with a couple of Kuang-Shi.”
“Kuang-Shi are Chinese ghosts.” Matthew explained. “Dad told me that Cologne’s people had accidentally disturbed an ancient seal and let those spirits out. They called us for help since my Dad has had experience in dealing with ghosts and other kinds of Darkstalkers. This will be my first time in handling specters.”
“Yes, this be a good training exercise for you.” Jon pointed out. “From what Cologne had said in her message, the spirits of Hsien Ko and Mei Lin are quite formidable. She also told me that they were once the daughters of the founder of the Hidden Weapons School of Combat. Spirit wards and various spells have proven ineffectual against them, and their current users of Hidden Weapons were easily defeated.”
“You mean that dope Mousse tried to fight them?” Matt winced as he remembered the numerous scuffles he’s had with Shampoo’s myopic would-be suitor.
“Yes, and he failed miserably.” His father replied.
“Who?” Nabiki inquired.
The younger lycanthrope shrugged. “He’s a moron who thinks that he’s going to marry a friend of mine, even though Shampoo wants absolutely nothing to do with him. He’ll hug anybody and anything, and I mean ANYTHING, if he thinks if it’s Shampoo. He’s so near-sighted that he couldn’t see a mountain if he was standing in front of it. Shampoo’s Great-grandmother Cologne also gets annoyed.”
“Mousse? Shampoo? Cologne? Are were talking about Amazons, or hair care and cosmetics?”
“No. Those are their real names, or what they sound like in Japanese. Don’t let them fool you. The Chinese Amazons are definitely in a different league than the martial artists you’ve seen in Tokyo. Shampoo’s Great-grandmother may be over three-hundred, but she can definitely kick your Dad’s butt and the Saotomes’. She can give my Dad a run for his money, even in his hybrid form.”
“She’s really that strong?”
“She is.” Jon affirmed. “And because of a pact that our family has made with the Amazons six hundred years ago, we are honor-bound to aid them in their times of need, especially against the supernatural. In exchange, we have been able to train in their secret techniques.”
“What kind of techniques?” The middle Tendo daughter asked.
“If I told you, then they wouldn’t be secret, now would they? Once again, we must remind you to be on your best behavior when we are at the village. Also, do not let them know that you have Secondary Lycanthropy. As far as they are concerned, you are my guest and Matthew’s schoolmate. They are very wary of outsiders and some of their laws concerning them may seem strange to you. Understand?”
Nabiki nodded as they continued toward their final destination.
Five days later...
“Here sirs and lady. We come to famous Training Grounds of Cursed Springs, Jusenkyo!” (2) The guide gestured to the many pools and bamboo poles which were scattered about the secluded valley.
Nabiki looked about and could just imagine Genma and ‘Ranma’ coming to this place and landing in the Springs of Drowned Panda and Piglet. How they could have trained here and NOT asked the guide as to why it was considered dangerous was beyond her. Her lycanthrope senses were already acute enough to detect the chaotic mystic energies emanating from this place.
It was at that moment that she saw a group of women approaching them from another entrance. All were dressed in exotic clothes and many carried various hand to hand weaponry such as swords, spears, tonfa, and so forth. The girl in the front of the group smiled as she caught sight of Matthew and began running up to him. She had long, purple hair and had a lithe, yet voluptuous figure, with a bosom that bounced with every step. She wore a very short, pink silk dress that showed off her fabulous legs and matching sandals.
Nabiki’s eyes narrowed as Matthew gave her a good-natured wave.
Shampoo, remembering that this was supposed to be a formal greeting, stopped herself just before she impulsively embraced her intended love-interest. She quickly composed herself and stood before Matthew, Jon and their guest. She gave them a polite bow and spoke.
[“Greetings. I bring you welcome from the Joketsuzoku and Elder Cologne.”]
Jon nodded as he responded. [“On behalf of the Talbains, I hereby receive your welcome. It is good to see you again, Shampoo. How is your great-grandmother?”]
Shampoo nodded. [“She is doing fine. Everyone in the village is eagerly waiting for you and Matthew.”] It was then that she noticed Nabiki. [“Who is she?”] She asked with some suspicion.
The Tendo girl tensed up when Shampoo gestured toward her. Though she only understood bits and pieces of Cantonese and Mandarin, (Matthew had been teaching her a few phrases over the course of their journey), she could guess as to what the purple-haired girl was saying. Nabiki had always prided herself on judging a person’s character, and from what she had seen so far, this Shampoo girl had some romantic interest toward her boyfriend. An emotion that she never experienced before began to stir within her... jealousy.
Jon quickly defused the situation and explained. [“This is Nabiki Tendo and she is my guest... and student. I have just begun her training in the martial arts. She is traveling with us to gain some experience. She is merely my son’s sparring partner and schoolmate. That’s all.”]
Shampoo smiled as she believed that Nabiki was Matthew’s training associate and not his lover. Though she thought it odd for Jon to be teaching anyone other than his son in the Talbain Wolf-Style, which was created primarily to be used by werewolves. She put that thought aside as she began to lead the Talbains, Nabiki and her group back to the Amazon village.
A while later, in Cologne’s house...
“And that’s where we stand now.” Cologne stated after explaining the situation of Hsien Ko and Mei Lin to Jon.
“I see.” Jon nodded as he reached into his backpack and pulled out a set of nunchakus, stowing the weapons behind his back and into a simple holster on his pants’ waistband. “Well, I can see why you are having so much trouble. From what you’ve described, apparently Mei Lin protects her sister from spells and spirit wards, while Hsien Ko attacks her opponents. I’d say that the best way to deal with them is to attack them while they’re separated. If we can keep Mei Lin from transforming into that enchanted parchment and attaching to her sister, then we should be able to bring them down.”
“That’s what the Council believes as well. However, even if we were to somehow separate the two, physical attacks will not work on Kuang Shi.”
“Don’t worry.” Jon assured her. “I have a few tricks that should be able to help. But I do wonder why those two are haunting the quarry in the first place.”
“We are not certain ourselves.” The older woman said. “Most of the records to their family line have been lost for centuries. Even the nature of their deaths is somewhat vague.”
“We may be able to find out once we defeat them and put their souls to rest for good. For now, we must prepare for the next encounter. I have to begin training my son in some new techniques. This will be his first battle with ghosts.”
At that point, the Amazon Matriarch changed the subject. “Speaking of training, I was most surprised when Shampoo told me that you had taken a disciple. I was under the impression that the Talbain Wolf-style was only taught from father to son, due to your family’s lycanthrope heritage.”
“Nabiki Tendo is now just learning the fundamentals of kung fu and kempo.” Jon replied. “It can be taught to anyone who wishes to learn. My son and I are already trained in those disciplines. My new student shows much potential.”
“Yes, I sensed that as well. However, I can’t help but suspect that it is because of some other reason that you are now instructing her along with your heir.” Cologne said. One could tell by her tone that she was already suspicious. “Tell me, does she know about your family’s secret?”
Matthew’s father sighed as he nodded. “Yes, she does.”
“And is she...?”
“It’s time for me to check on my son and other pupil.” Talbain turned around and left her hut without another word. As he exited, he knew that he could not keep deceiving Cologne for much longer. Even if Nabiki were to able to keep her ycanthrope appearance out of sight, her very aura was like a bonfire of ki and mystical energies. It wouldn’t take long for Cologne or the other Elders to figure out that Soun’s daughter had been bitten and now possessed a portion of Matthew’s werewolf abilities. It would be best to finish the business with the Kuang Shi as soon as possible and leave. Afterwards, he could seek out the help of another old friend, who was well-versed in the ways of magic.
Perhaps his former college buddy, Dr. Theodore Diggers could downgrade Nabiki’s lycanthropy to tertiary levels so that she would transform only during the nights of the full moon. Secondary Lycanthropy, once infected, was impossible to remove completely, but it could be reduced. He had heard that Diggers had removed part of his werecheetah daughter’s lycanthropy so that she wouldn’t spread it through biting. She had later gotten it back during the birth of her first child.
He tabled those thoughts for later as he walked through the Amazon village. As always, his presence drew the attention of all who saw him. There was no one in the Joketsuzoku who did not know of the Talbain werewolves. They were revered as great allies and prime breeding stock. Even if the Amazons were not guaranteed natural-born female werewolves, the mystic blood would be intermingled into their gene pool and make them all the more stronger. Even Jon had admitted that the women born in his family had exhibited enhanced physical abilities and senses, despite not becoming full werewolves. As a result, he and his son were frequently pursued by just about every eligible Amazon female in the village.
And the fact that both father and child were very fine-looking and powerful warriors also helped.
One of the more bolder Amazons,(relatively speaking), decided to make her move and walked up to Matthew’s father. He recognized her as Silk, the village’s head seamstress and who was also very handy with a spear. She had long brown hair, a very slender figure, and lively brown eyes. Currently, she was wearing a red silk dress, and her hair was done up in a simple ponytail, tied with a red ribbon.
Normally, she was a quiet individual who spent most of time repairing garments and making new clothes. However, whenever Jon Talbain and his son visited, she had tried without success to seduce Matthew’s father and make him her husband. There was no other man who could compare with the handsome foreigner. At twenty-five, Silk was still considered one of the most beautiful maidens in the village. She has had many suitors who had tried to win her, but she had refused them all, hoping to ensnare the lycanthrope. Unfortunately, due to the pact, she could not catch him with the Outsider Marriage Law, so she had to compete with all the other women, in a ritual that was mostly unfamiliar to them.
How to win a man without challenging him, or knocking him out and dragging him home. In other words... courtship.
[“Good afternoon, Jon Talbain.”] Silk smiled prettily as she began walking with him. [“It has been some time since you were last here.”]
[“Ah... hello Silk. How are you and your family?”] Jon asked as neared the place where his son and Nabiki were supposed to be training.
[“Doing well, though my parents are still grousing that I have yet to give them some grandchildren.”]
Jon swallowed nervously as he gave her a smile. She had all the tact of a nuclear missile. Then again, the Amazons were not known for their subtlety. [“I’m sure that you’ll find that special someone. You’ll make a good wife someday.”]
[“Yes. And perhaps that special someone might be closer than one might think.”] Silk said with a sly tone.
This was immediately noted by the elder Talbain. He quickly changed the subject by pointing toward an area that was currently being used by his son and Nabiki Tendo. This was near the Challenge Log, where the annual Championship Tournament took place. A massive timber was suspended between two posts. They were simultaneously going through the basic forms. Both were dressed in their training gi, though Matthew was currently bare-chested.
However, they were not alone. From behind various building corners, trees and bushes, several dozen teenage Amazon girls were hungrily watching the well-muscled lycanthrope adolescent. And the one who was gazing upon him with the most intensity, was Shampoo.
Jon developed a large sweatdrop as he saw that his son was like a pork chop in the middle of a school of piranha. He hoped that things wouldn’t get out of hand as he waved to his son and Soun’s daughter.
Both acknowledged him and stopped in their katas. Jon then motioned for Nabiki to step aside as he faced off against his child. Matthew nodded as he prepared for his daily bout with his father. Both assumed a stance with their auras lighting up in blue-white brilliance.
The Amazons began to talk excitedly among themselves and crowded around the area. It was a rare occurrence to see the Talbains during their sparring sessions. Naturally the majority of the crowds consisted of females, though there were a considerable amount of men present, which included Shampoo’s unwanted suitor, Mousse.
The near-sighted Hidden Weapons fighter growled slightly as he watched the one who had his beloved’s attention. By this time, he had finally gotten his hearing back since his disastrous encounter with the original users of his fighting style. As he watched the lycanthropes trade blows with each other, his mood darkened.
His obsession with Shampoo was no secret and he had often ridiculed himself in his attempts to win her heart. However, with the purple-tressed girl’s affections being aimed at Jon’s son, Mousse had thought that by defeating the Kuang-Shi would make him a hero in her eyes and thereby forget that beast boy. However since his humiliation with the two ghost sisters, everyone in the village, including his darling Shampoo, were convinced that only the supernatural fighters of the Talbains could overcome them.
With one final gaze at his Shampoo, who happened to be watching Matthew with a lovesick expression, he let off a snort of disgust and departed.
One way or another, he would show Shampoo that he was the one for her and not some inhuman freak!
Matthew dodged a series of fast punches from his father then countered with a flurry of his own. Jon blocked each of the strikes, then charged forward with a howl. He was immediately surrounded by a corona of light as he slammed into his offspring. The Beast Cannon move was extremely effective at near point-blank range and Matthew was unable to counter in time. Jon continued to press the attack, bouncing his son about like a pinball.
However, Matthew wasn’t by far a quitter as he flipped backward, and used a midair spin kick, energizing his foot with ki and supernatural power.
This knocked his father out of his Beast Cannon move, but he instantly recovered and rebounded off one of the pillars of the Challenge Log. His right leg came up with his foot glowing.
Unable to stop his downward motion in time, Matthew held up his hands to block and winced as he felt the sting of his father’s attack hit.
The two landed on their feet, and charged at each other again, this time drawing out their nunchakus. Both began swinging their chained clubs at insane speeds, making thousands of strikes in under a few seconds. However, neither could penetrate the other’s defense.
The Amazons watched in awe at their speed technique which made the infamous Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire method seem slow and clumsy. The air snapped with the sounds of their weapons’ impacts, like a volley of machine gunfire. Then the pair upped the ante by simultaneously transforming into their hybrid forms.
The intensity of the battle increased exponentially as each combatant began fighting at near-full strength. Then the match came to a climax as both leapt away from each and held up their nunchakus and let loose with a shout.
While Matthew’s attack resembled seven fiery wolves in a stream that resembled the breath of a dragon, Jon’s was one huge blast with the front shaped like a wolf’s head. Both streams collided mightily and made the evening light up as bright as day. However, Jon’s attack blasted through Matthew’s and the younger werewolf fell victim to the backlash, causing him to stagger backward. In that instant, Jon’s charged forward with the Beast Cannon and added his own power to the stream.
The result caused another massive blast when he collided with his son. This caused the crowds to back off. When the dust settled, Matthew was found lying on his back with his father standing over him in victory. He smiled up at his sire and acknowledged his defeat.
At that point, several of the girls, including Shampoo, ran towards him, but immediately stopped as Nabiki got to him first and helped him to his feet. The middle Tendo daughter then felt a bit of a chill as she could feel the stares she was getting from the others, especially from Cologne’s great-granddaughter. In addition to enhanced physical abilities, she also had a kind of animalistic instinct, which could detect the emotions of others directed toward her.
Nabiki knew that she would have to be very careful.
As night fell on the Amazon Village, Cologne had decided to check on her guests. Currently, the Talbains and Nabiki were staying in one of the guest huts. As she came near one of the side windows, she noticed a glint of gold. Her curiosity piqued, she approached the building, using all of her stealth techniques and peered through the window.
She saw Nabiki Tendo getting ready for bed as she was dressed in modest pajamas. She thought it was a bit odd since the sleepwear seemed to be overly big. The girl was almost swimming in them. Her gaze was then drawn to what was hanging around her neck. She immediately recognized the wolf-head pendant.
<Hmmm… why would she wear that? Unless…>
Cologne’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. Ever since she had learned that Jon had begun teaching another disciple, she had wondered if the Tendo girl was hiding something. Her great-granddaughter had watched Nabiki practice and had commented to her relative that the outsider moved quite well for a novice. Furthermore, the ancient Elder had wondered why the short-haired girl was radiating a good amount of spiritual energy, which was not to be expected of someone who was just starting out in the martial arts.
Cologne immediately stopped in her train of thought as Nabiki suddenly turned toward her window. The old woman just barely managed to get out of sight.
Nabiki leaned out her window and looked about. Her new night vision scanned the surrounding area while her sensitive nostrils flared a bit. She had thought she had detected someone spying on her. After a long while, she shrugged her shoulders and went back inside, this time closing the curtain behind her.
On the roof, Cologne let off a small sigh of relief, then became deep in thought.
Nabiki had actually detected her! Only the Talbains were able to do that. She had seen the girl look about in the dark without any squinting and she had sniffed about. Cologne was glad that the roof had some new tar on it, which had masked her scent.
If what she suspected was true about Soun’s daughter…
The next morning…
Nabiki yawned as she rose from her bed. The morning sun’s light filtered through her bedroom window from around the edges of the curtain. She stretched out her arms above her head and looked down at herself. She nodded as she saw herself in her hybrid form, with the oversized pajamas now tightly stretched on her enlarged and muscular body. As she had expected, the pendant’s magic had faded during the night, and she was glad to have worn larger sleepwear, just in case. She then reached over to her nightstand, picked up the spare pendant and took off the one she was wearing. She put on the new one and waited.
The wolf’s head necklace worked its magic and caused her body to shrink back down to its human appearance. When she had returned to normal, she then began to get ready for the day. Shampoo had offered to show her around the village and the countryside, while Matthew and his father were going to the quarry to get more information on the ghosts that were haunting the area.
“Nihao, Tendo-san!” Shampoo greeted as she approached the front door of the guest hut. She was currently wearing a more conservative outfit of light, lavender pants, sandals and matching blouse.
Nabiki waved back to her as she was dressed in dark slacks, blue, short-sleeved, collared shirt and a pair of running shoes. On her neck, underneath the shirt, was her pendant, with the spare tucked in her back pocket. “Good morning, Shampoo.”
“We have big day today! Shampoo will show you Amazon village and forest. You have good time, yes?”
Akane’s sister nodded as she followed her guide. Though Shampoo’s accent needed work, she spoke Japanese reasonably well, and Nabiki assumed that she had learned from Matthew and Jon. And the warrior-maiden’s Japanese was certainly better than Nabiki’s grasp of Cantonese and Mandarin. As she discreetly gave Shampoo a once-over, she noted that the Amazon teen was quite well-developed. The girls at school would have killed to have a figure like hers at age 16, especially in the hips and bosom. Shampoo was at least a C-cup and her clothes seemed to mold onto her like a second skin.
At the same time Nabiki was assessing Shampoo, the purple-haired female was assessing the outsider girl. Overall, Nabiki was moderately built with some curves. However, what really made her take notice was the way she moved. Since she was from the city, Shampoo had assumed Nabiki to be more noisy in her footsteps.
However as they walked, the short-haired girl was actually moving with very light steps, and a quiet shuffle. She remembered back to the previous night when she and the other girls in the village were watching her practice with Matthew, and though she had been informed that Soun’s daughter was only starting in her training, Shampoo had seen her move in time with her intended with few mistakes, and almost no effort. She was either naturally gifted in the martial arts, or she was actually dedicated and practiced constantly.
However, Shampoo tended to dismiss the second theory as she saw no signs of prolonged training on Nabiki. There were no telltale marks or calluses on her hands or any other part of her body, as far as she could see. Furthermore, Nabiki did not carry herself as someone who had decided on focusing on the martial arts. Rather, it felt as though she was somewhat forced into it, or that she had no choice.
Shampoo tabled those thoughts for later as she led Nabiki toward the center of the village to begin the tour.
Matthew and Jon came to the entrance to the quarry, which was about 3 kilometers west of the village. As soon as the entered, both lycanthropes felt their mystical senses tingle as they looked about.
“You feel that, Son?”
The younger werewolf nodded. “Yeah. I’m starting to get a bit of a chill down my spine.”
“That’s how you can estimate the power of ghosts and such. These Kuang Shi are considerably strong. They’re drawing power from all surrounding sources of magic. Since this area is so close to Jusenkyo, I’m not at all surprised that they were able to withstand those Spirit Wards and spells that the Amazons used against them.”
“So how are we going to fight them, Dad?”
“Just remember Son, as werewolves, we also have supernatural characteristics. We CAN hurt them. First of all, I’d like to know just why Hsien Ko and Mei Lin are haunting this area in the first place. Let’s check out the place where they were first sighted.”
Back at the village…
“This blacksmith, Slag.”
Shampoo gestured to the forge, in which the large and burly man worked. Slag towered over the two girls at an impressive height of six-foot-nine inches. His form was massive with rippling muscled arms and a wide chest. The flames climbed upwards as he worked the bellows to increase the heat of the coals.
As the Tendo girl leaned forward for a better look, her nose wrinkled was she smelled the soot, the fumes, and the telltale scent of a certain metal. A slight tingle went down her spine as she immediately recognized it. In addition to smelting and shaping iron, Slag was adept at creating metal alloys. This particular sword that was he was making was a combination of iron, carbon and silver.
Early on, Nabiki had discovered that she had the same vulnerability to silver as the Talbains. In a jewelry store in Beijing, she had handled a silver ring for too long and received a mild burn on her right index finger and thumb. The pendant she wore only afforded her short protection against the metal, and it took her a day and a half to heal from the contact.
She nodded to the Amazon as she followed her to the next sight, breathing out a slight sigh of relief as she left the metalworker’s place of livelihood.
This was not lost on Shampoo as she had observed Soun’s daughter with interest and suspicion. She had taken note of how Nabiki reacted when she saw Slag pouring out some silver from his crucible. She began to wonder about her and made a note to keep a close eye on her.
At the quarry, the Talbains approached the spot where the Kuang Shi had first been spotted. Naturally, the area was thick with leftover magical energies and it was easy for them to discern where the ancient spirits had been sealed.
Jon kneeled down and picked up what appeared to be a half-circle of metal with some Chinese inscriptions on it. The place was near a small cave opening that was just recently opened. Judging from the age of the metal fragment plus the amount of residual magic emanating from it, (not to mention the seal inscriptions on its surface), there was no doubt that they had found the place where Hsien Ko and Mei Lin had been sealed.
Back to the Amazon Village…
“This Challenge Log.” Shampoo said as she showed Nabiki the place where the Annual Tournament was held.
The short-haired girl let off a low whistle as she estimated the weight of the huge timber that was suspended some 15 feet off the ground. It would have to weigh at least 15 to 20 tons. Though her strength had increased since Matthew bit her, she doubted that she would be able to lift the log. Heck, she would think that the Talbains would have trouble lifting it.
“So this is only used once a year?” She asked.
Cologne’s great-granddaughter shook her head. “No. Is used for other challenges. If Amazons have argument, they settle here. No killing and no sharp weapons. Win if knock down or give up. Most times, win by hitting off log. Is also good for practice.”
Then Shampoo asked, “You want to practice with Shampoo?”
To be continued…
Well, that takes care of chapter 7 as this part of Beast Within is done. In chapter 8 we’re going to have the first confrontation between the werewolves and the ghosts. As for the outcome between Nabiki and Shampoo, you’re going to have to wait and see.
(1) Shei shei means thank you in Chinese.
(2) Well, you had to have expected this phrase sooner or later.